"And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day" (Joshua 4:9, ESV).
We use permanent markers to tag those things that are important to us and that we want to keep, such as our kid's clothes, Tupperware, CDs, and the like. Throughout the Bible are scattered dozens of permanent markers of a different type, such as Joshua’s stones. We also observe permanent markers as a nation.
Yesterday was Memorial Day. It’s a day we honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. It is a permanent marker of a special, meaningful event. It’s one of several such public markers we will be observed from now through the christening of a new year.
Why do we put so much stead on these special days? Because they mean so much to us. Each of us have special memories and fond emotions attached to most public holidays. The same is especially true for private holidays such as births, weddings, and more.
God instructed Joshua to pile up a bunch of stones in the middle of the river Jordan and in the middle of their camp. Why? As a physical, permanent marker of His specific, caring, personal, miraculous intervention in their lives. Throughout the Bible there are exhortations to recall and celebrate all the things that God has done, and to tell others about His acts. Why?
When, on Thanksgiving, we recall the strength and suffering of the Pilgrims in their quest for religious freedom, we are inspired and humbled. When, on Christmas, we recall what it must have been like for God to become man, we are filled with awe. When, on our child's birthday, we recall what it was like to watch them be born, we are awed in our roles as parents and proud of their growth and accomplishments.
Likewise, when things are tough, we can recall how God has brought us through previous hard times, provided for needs, brought healing, or sent someone to stand alongside us, we are encouraged, lifted up, and driven to worship Him all at the same time. These are spiritual permanent markers.
Spiritual permanent markers are evidences God has given us of his love and care and involvement in our lives. They are opportunities to acknowledge our dependence on Him as well as to be thankful for His unfailing love and provision. Daily, we should recount and recall all that the Lord has done for us and look with expectation and awe for what He is about to do!
“And these [permanent markers] that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, ESV).