Reflections on living the “insideout–life” of a worshipper
‘When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4: 1-7)
‘Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us’ (1 Samuel 7: 12)
Today I want to share some thoughts on the importance of remembrance, I am going to call it the ‘discipline of remembrance’ because I think it is a vital part of our worship lives and something very practical we can be doing to ‘lead ourselves in worship’. Its a way we can be continually remind ourselves of who God is an what He has done in our lives, which will inspire us to keep trusting and worshipping Him. What do I mean by the ‘discipline of remembrance’? Well I think there are certain rituals and rhythms we can be putting into place in our worship lives that just might help us in this.
As we look through the Old Testament, we see many examples of where the Israelites used something physical, and altar, a pillar of stone, even just stones themselves – as a physical reminder of what God had done in their history and in their lives. I have two favourite stories – The first is in the book of Joshua. Moses has passed away after leading the people of Israel out of Egypt and Joshua has taken up the mantle. They are about to head into the promised land but the big hurdle is that they need to cross the Jordan river. So God causes a great miracle (reminiscent of when he parted the red sea) and he cuts off the water of the flooding river so that the people can cross. Its a great triumphant moment you can read in Joshua 3. As the story continues we read in Joshua 4 that God instructs Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each of the tribes and to take a stone from out of the river and to set it down on the land on the other side of the river. So they do this and they create an altar to worship God, a place of remembrance, to remind them of the place where God helped them. We see another example of this in 1 Samuel 7 where God leads the people of Israel to a great victory over their enemies the Philistines and again, Samuel sets up a stone called the Ebenezer stone – literally meaning ‘the stone of help’ to remind the people of the place where God helped them. They were physical rituals, and symbols to help them remember, not only what God had done, but to encourage them – this is the same God that was still with them, the same God who would continue to be faithful and not let them down.
I think it is the same with us today – and one of these rituals where we do this is our gathered times on Sundays or midweek or whenever we do them. When we worship together – the songs we sing are reminders of who our God is, they help us to affirm to ourselves and to each other the faithfulness and the goodness of God. I’m not sure about you but I need these physical reminders to help keep my eyes fixed upwards, especially if I am going through a battle or a hardship. When we do things like have communion together, this is also a time to remember what God has done in sending Jesus to the world and allowing him to die in order that we might live. We remember with physical elements, juice and bread to remind ourselves. In some traditions there are other sacramental elements that help in this discipline of remembrance, incense, a physical altar, physical symbols like genuflecting or a spoken liturgy.
But I wonder, aside from a gathered worship space – are there ways in which you can include the discipline of remembering in your every day devotional life? Today honestly I am all ears, I would love YOUR suggestions of how you do this on an everyday basis. Share your thoughts in the comments below that is might inspire others. For me it is often journalling, and practising thankfulness, but even as I share I think there could be certain days of the week where I just journal about God’s faithfulness and take time remember what he has done – look back over the week, the month, the year and recount His faithfulness. There are also some great prayers like the prayer of Examen which can help in this process too which I will post a link to. The other thing is maybe having communion in your own devotional time once a week or however often, or lighting a candle as a physical symbol to help attune yourself to God. Anyways I would love to hear your thoughts today.. what are the ways we can foster the discipline of ‘remembrance’ in our every day devotional lives.