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Building an Altar

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.

There are moments during this walk with Christ that we experience victory, power, and presence in a way that is truly life changing. It’s as if the cosmos come to a halt as the divine interrupts the daily norm, just for you and for me. What was natural and expected bows before the supernatural and unexpected as God once again pours out His love upon our circumstances to “make things alright” again. When we read scripture those moments are so moving and powerful that humanity can’t help but build an altar, a place of remembrance.

I suppose it’s fitting. There is something to be said, and something to be told, about that moment in our history. That moment when God heard our cries, saw our tears, and our prayers echoed through the heavens so loudly He could not hold back His power any longer. Unleashing a small measure of His omnipotence He moved under the unconquerable mission of love to come to our rescue. More times than not do we deserve such an encounter but receive it we must. It is, was, and always will be for our benefit.

So it’s fitting to build an altar. A place of remembrance. A place that is forever anchored in our conscience and spirit. A place where we draw strength, comfort, assurance, confidence, and restoration. Interestingly enough there are two very specific songs that come to my mind during times of stress, fatigue, frustration, and loneliness. Both of those songs are older songs. They are songs that for many have been forgotten, and for some have yet to be heard. I believe we all have those songs and those songs can become altars – places of remembrance.

My specific songs brought me through countless moments of adversity. Altars are scriptural and they are often necessary. While we can never change the past we can often draw encouragement from past experiences. And one day our children may ask us what those altars are for. They may ask why we are emotionally moved when a 20 year old song begins to play. They may ask why we cherish certain people or places.

They’ll ask and we’ll have the blessing of telling them… “That, son, is when God showed up and changed my life.”

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