The Email that Made Me Cry
Recalling what God has done gives us the hope He will do it again. Let me first share a very personal example of what I mean. Yesterday I received a letter that made me call my husband crying.
At the time of my daughter’s viral, child sex trafficking warning nearly three years ago, this message writer became an acquaintance I only vaguely corresponded with after connecting through mutual friends. Having never met in person, I opened her email not knowing what she might need or the reason for her message. But, upon seeing the opening line, I lost it.
It was a sincere and lengthy “thank you” note. How incredibly humbling.
While reading, a reel of mental images of this entire journey played. The highs and lows ultimately culminated in knowing what God can do in us and with our unthinkable circumstances. It was almost like this message was a Certificate of Completion.
We did it, Lord. This story is bringing awareness, peace, and freedom. You were right - it was worth it.
I printed her email and pinned the black and white page of colorful cheer to the cork board over my desk. That sweet message will serve as a reminder; a reminder that I will need for the rough days I know lie ahead. You don’t write controversial books on taboo topics and not get some backlash. Yet, God is faithful and trustworthy, and tangible reminders keep us tethered to truth when our feelings tempt us to bob up and down. For this reason, the email will stay pinned right there.
This story is really the perfect illustration of one of my favorite Biblical narratives which is found in Joshua 4. I imagine what those tired, wandering people must have felt like as forty years came to an end and their promise from God became actualized. It is so precious that the God who had already parted the Red Sea for their confused and complaining ancestors did the miraculous once more. God’s chosen people again walked on dry ground right through the raging Jordan River. Again, God gave his people very specific instructions, but they were vastly different than the ones given to a nation running from Pharaoh's chariots.
The priests were to walk in first with the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol and reality of God’s Spirit among them, and stand there keeping the ground dry until the entire nation walked through the Jordan. Then, each tribe was to take a stone with them from the very spot where the priests stood. These 12 stones were then to be placed together on the other side of the river, signifying God’s mighty work.
21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
These stones of remembrance were purposeful. For generations to come, people would have a memorial of God’s faithful trustworthiness. In a small way, just like that letter served as a reminder to me of what God has done on my journey.
To look back on God’s faithfulness in recognizing what He has already done for us grants an exceedingly powerful picture of what God can do for us in the future. I don’t want to lose that picture -- no more than I would like to lose every precious picture I’ve taken of my children over the years or that email. Losing memories is a devastating loss. So, God wanted to ensure His faithfulness would be passed down through the ages and required the people establish a physical representation - 12 stones.
It prompted me to consider other ways I could put into practice the idea of memorable “stones” - items I could encounter and then recall His goodness.
In the past, we have actually written on little stones in permanent marker. But, writing in my prayer journal again was the first thing that popped into my head. Writing down every prayer I am praying, daily praying over it, and having the ability to go back and see what God has done is unmatchable. And there is a reason it is so very important to r