“This is the route the Israelites followed as they marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress. These are the stages of their march, identified by the different places where they stopped along the way.” (Numbers 33:1-2)
I am a quote collector. Whether it’s some nugget of truth from some famous speaker/author or just something funny that I overheard, I like to write things down. If you flip through my journal or scroll through my Facebook or Twitter feed, you’ll find many different quotes that I’ve collected over the years. When I am spending time with friends or family, I’ll often catch them saying something funny and inform them that they are going to be featured on my Twitter feed. (Youth Group trips and events are a comedy gold mine.) Some stuff is just too good not to share!
One of the reasons that I write things down is that I enjoy looking back on various entries and reminiscing about the circumstances surrounding each particular quote. Like taking a candid photo, I am able to record unguarded moments, catching and preserving my friends and loved ones just as they truly are. Other times, I’ll come across a quote that I’ve recorded out of a book, and I remember the things that I was going through that caused that passage to really resonate with me. Less frequently, I’ll find entries where I poured out my thoughts, prayers, and struggles out on the paper. My journal allows me to look back at my experiences — sometimes fondly, sometimes with regret — and see the hand of God in my life.
Today’s passage points out that Moses recorded the Israelites’ journey. The interesting part is that he did this “at the Lord’s direction.” All throughout the Bible, God instructs his people to remember…where they came from, where they’re going, the covenant that God made with them, why that stack of stones is there, why they observed certain festivals, etc. He referred to himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to remind the Israelites of how he had been faithful to their ancestors. Even in the New Testament, Jesus describes himself in terms of fulfilling prophetic promises and the disciples proclaimed the gospel by giving their eye-witness accounts. God understands the power of narrative.
We’ve all heard amazing stories of how God delivered someone from a self-destructive lifestyle and tales of miraculous provision or healing. When we hear these kinds of stories, it’s hard not to be amazed at the grace, mercy, and power of God. But it’s not just recovered addicts, reformed criminals and cancer survivors who have a testimony. Every single one of us began our journey needing to be saved from something, many times ourselves, and through the faithfulness and goodness of God we have made it to where we are today!
The question, then, is what are you doing to remember your journey, to honor God for his deliverance and patient love? Are you telling others what God has done for you? Are you passing on a heritage of faith to your children and grandchildren?
Many times, we don’t tell others what God has done in our lives because we are ashamed of who we used to be or we are self-conscious about drawing attention to ourselves, but if we truly have been delivered then we should be shouting it from the rooftops. Like the Psalmist, we will be able to say:
“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” (Psalm 66:16-20)
PRAYER: Father in heaven, we stand in awe of your grace and mercy. Help us to remember all that you have done and are doing for us. Let your Holy Spirit guide us and give us courage to tell others of your amazing love. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.