Marking the spot

thOne of our readers was a fellow alum of Wheaton College, and appreciated my Catch on Wednesday about ordering an alumni license plate cover from the college bookstore. You were one class ahead of me, Hal. I was class of ’69. That means your senior year was the year  V. Raymond Edman, President of the college from 1941-1965, died in chapel delivering his last chapel talk. “The King is coming…” were his last words, and, indeed, He came. Were you there? That was a seminal moment, when a great saint died doing what he loved the most: preaching the word of God. It always reminded me of Enoch who walked so close with God that God didn’t even bother with his death, He just took him home, or as the King James puts it so eloquently: “Enoch was not, for God took him.”

In my reply to Hal, who incidentally was thinking about getting one of those license plates himself, I encouraged him to do it for the following reason: “Go for it. A Christmas present to yourself! Every time you get in your car you can think about how that was an important time in your life and you want to be faithful to your calling. That’s why I got it.” And in writing that, I remembered the reason why: I wanted to pull together an important time in my life and give it perspective. We all have times we need to remember in our lives — memorial stones when God met us, or we made lasting lifetime decisions. Maybe for you it was a family vacation or an experience at summer camp, a study abroad, or your own college experience — it’s good to have something you can mark those times with, because they are significant and life is short (and getting shorter by the minute).

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all did this. They would stop and build a stone altar on the very ground they were standing when God spoke to them in a significant way so that when they, or anyone else, for that matter, passed by, they would remember God met them there and a transaction took place. I see no reason why an alumni license plate can’t be a memorial stone — an altar to seal an important meeting, a turning point, a moment that effected every area of your life from then on.

Take a moment today to reflect on a memorial stone of your own. What would it be? Can you get there in your mind? Can you remember the transaction? Have you been faithful? Not perfect. I didn’t say perfect, just faithful, meaning you’re still acting on it in some way in your life?

And if you’d like, share it with someone else or write us about it. Get it out of your head and into the real world where it can do some good for you and for others as family and friends. It will help you tell your story.

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5 Responses to Marking the spot

  1. One of the best “memorial stones” I have occurred when I was working as part of the outside team for a Walk to Emmaus. I was posted at the gate to direct cars for a Saturday evening worship service. I had to go to my post very early and was there for some time before any cars started arriving. Out there, in the dark, starry night, I had an Epiphany. One of the times that God spoke to me and I actually heard Him. My mother was (to me) not the most loving, kind person. She was always harsh and critical. Nothing I did was ever quite right. On that night, with God, I realized that she was acting/reacting in the ONLY way she knew – and that I had to give up the anger and resentment I felt toward my mother. I didn’t have to accept or like her choices, but I had to realize that she knew no other way. I then realized why I parented SO differently from my mother – I wanted to give my daughters a loving, accepting parent.

  2. Wanda says:

    Urgent prayer request. Alison’s cancer has returned, she had breast cancer awhile back and the cancer is now in her lung (receiving radiation & chemo) and in her colon. Will have surgery on Dec 26 to remove the tumor in the colon. She may also be losing a kidney will know in the next few days if this will happen. She has 3 children under the age of ten and has no one to care for them if something happens to her. The father is in prison serving 6 years for abusing her.
    She has money problems as she has lost her job…waiting for some kind of help from the system but it is slow in coming. To make matters worse, her car broke down yesterday which leaves her with no transportation to get her treatments. We serve a awesome God and I believe in miracles…will you pray with me God will grant Alison a miracle, Thank you & God Bless

  3. Catherine Giesbrecht says:

    John, I loved today’s Catch! Let me tell you my altar story:

    A couple of years ago I had reached a place where I was really struggling with my call as a worship leader in our church. I found myself in conflict with someone on the worship team, and it ended badly. I found myself getting “pushback” from the pastor about choices I was making as a leader. I began to doubt, and I wondered if it was time to give up — after all I am in my 50s and maybe someone younger should be doing this (our pastor is 20 years younger than I). I wondered if God was moving me to some other role (or no role at all) in our local church.

    After several months of this situation and my increasing discomfort with it, we went on our annual camping vacation at a lake in Montana. It is truly a gorgeous spot and one that has always left me refreshed both in body and mind. However, I had never entered our vacation time as spiritually troubled as I was that year.

    While at the lake, we always read together a book of some kind that will bring us some solid spiritual teaching and refreshment. That year we read Jack Hayford’s “The Power and the Blessing.” We read a chapter or two each morning, which provided plenty of food for thought the rest of the day as we played on the lake or rested on the shore. Friends came to visit us and they kindly listened to my doubts and weighed in with their own opinions and prayers (one of these friends is also my co-leader on the worship team).

    At the end of the two weeks, I still had not found an answer through the readings, the talking, and the praying. On our last full day, I was gently floating down the length of the lake in a nice breeze, resting in my river tube and enjoying the beauty that surrounded me. As I floated, I asked God point blank the question that I had come with in the first place — “Who AM I?” The answer came as clearly as if He’d been sitting on the back of the tube: “You are a musician in MY Court.”

    In an instant my perspective was cleared and I could see that this music, this ministry, was not just about my local church and the people there. My calling, as are all of ours, was to a role in the Kingdom of God, in His Court. In some way or other, it’s a role I will play for eternity — of that I am convinced by His words to me that day.

    The next year, when we returned to the lake, I did build an altar of stones on the shore on the far side, where it would remain relatively undisturbed — and where I could see it from our campsite.

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