I was reading over at Beauty Beyond Bones, and was touched by her very vulnerable post, sharing how the enemy of our souls can use memories of dark times in our lives to discourage and disparage. I’ve been going through some personal evaluation myself, and her story just struck a chord.
Haven’t we all been there? We long to leave difficult seasons in the past, but we visit a place, run into someone with a really good memory, hear a song, or maybe it’s a smell? Anniversaries come around, or perhaps we run across a belonging from that forgotten time period, and it all comes rushing back.
It really reminds me of how God used Joshua to lead the camp of Israel across the Jordan and into their promised land. (Joshua 3 &4) God had already brought them out of Egypt, and He could have brought them to the Promised Land through a short and uncomplicated path, but I kind of think God knew they needed time and difficult circumstances to teach them to trust Him after all those years in captivity. They went the long way, and had opportunity to witness miracle after miracle, but because of their lack of faith they ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
When God decided it was time for Israel to leave the wilderness, He used no less spectacular means than usual to lead them home. He parted the waters of the Jordan for them to cross on dry land. Of those who crossed over, Scriptures tells that 40,000 of them were dressed and ready for battle. And only after they crossed over safely did the Ark of the Lord come up out of the Jordan and allow the waters to return to their place.
Afterward, the Lord had them take 12 large stones from the Jordan, one for each tribe of Israel, and they set them up where they camped. Likewise, Joshua erected 12 stones in the midst of the Jordan, where they would remain.
The stones? Stones of Remembrance that God wanted them to be able to see and remember what God had done for them. Some of those people probably wished they could just forget the past and make a new start. But God wanted them to have Memorials to testify to them, and to their children, and to the world that the “hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
There was a time when the pain of losing my parents was still quite fresh, and the grief was still so strong that it choked. I feared drowning in the waters when I remembered where I had come from, and who I could have been if I had followed some of the patterns that had been set for me. I cried out to the Lord and told him I didn’t want to be that person.
Immediately He answered me, saying simply, “I brought you out.”
Simple as that. I didn’t need to be anxious about what could have been. My current path is different because God intentionally intervened on my behalf. He brought me out and into His will.
God lets us dwell in those dark periods for a time, and then like Israel, He brings us out. He parts the waters for us, and makes straight the way for us to travel. He then brings up the rear to make sure we land safely on the other side. He makes sure we are prepared for the battles required to take the ground He has purposed for us, giving us the Armor of the Lord, and then He fights alongside us, delivering victory into our hands a day at a time.
No matter how dark our dark places have been, or how fierce the battle is today, God promises us that He works it all together for our good as we love and follow Him.
“I brought you out,” is His reminder to us.
He doesn’t want us to forget where we came from. He wants us to be able to look back and testify to His faithfulness, His goodness, and His loving kindness toward us. These are faith building because there are more Jordans ahead, and we need to trust Him if we’re going to keep our bearing.
So let healing continue to take its course. Smile when people remember who you used to be and invite them to praise God with you for what He has done and what He still wants to do. Praise Him for being a God of Restoration. Transformation. Recovery. And Hope!
Get rid of the things that don’t speak life to you anymore. Surround yourself with people who affirm God’s goodness in your life, as well as things that affirm truth. Wallow in God’s Word!
When those old memories threaten to get you down, call them what they are. They are your Stones of Remembrance. They don’t define you. They can’t break you. They simply remind you that the hand of the Lord is mighty.
He is the one who lifts you up, and He Brings You Out, Safely, every single time. He will always lead you home.
“ Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21