Last May, we went camping with my family near Mount Magazine at Cove Lake. The air was just starting to get that warm, sticky feeling, but driving with the windows down was still bearable. Eric and I drove down from Fayetteville along winding highways, slowing down through small towns and singing along to the radio.
However, we were both heavy-hearted with the news that Eric’s job was being phased out of his company.
Not ready to tell anyone yet, we had kept the information to ourselves; we wanted to trust the Lord with our next steps, and even though we didn’t know what those looked like, we knew we had to surrender it to God first.
I grew up camping during the majority of the spring and summer with my family, and my dad knows all the good places to camp. Cove Lake was slightly crowded, but he had reserved a spot near the lake and fairly separate from the rest of the sites (but not too close to the outhouse). We hiked some, hammocked some, and we cooked really good food.
That night, as we were sitting around the campfire, my parents brought out a jar, a bag of rocks, and some Sharpies. Mom passed out rocks and markers to everyone as Dad began to explain that we were young in our marriage (six months in) and young in our lives, and we had a lot before us – both good and hard experiences. “When you get to the hard times, you have to look back and lean on how God provided in the past to allow you to move forward in faith that He will do the same. Because you don’t yet have as many of these God-experiences to look back on together, we want to share with you some of our God-stories. We are going to write them on rocks to start your jar, as a way to remember – then, when you reach hard times, you can look back at these stories for encouragement and start filling the jar with your own stories.”
My parents had no idea about Eric’s job situation and the crisis of faith we were in. But they started telling story after story of God’s provision in our family’s story – specifically, financial provision. These stories were ones I had heard growing up, but it strengthened my heart to hear them all again, and to know that Eric was getting to hear all that God had done for my family. Everything from a flexible job for my mom so that she didn’t have to put me in daycare, to someone giving us groceries when Mom didn’t know where the next meal would come from, to financial gifts and encouragement for Dad when he was starting his shop, to God’s faithfulness with friendships in my sister’s life. They continued to tell stories and write them on rocks and form the first layer in our glass jar.
We took that jar home with us that weekend, and a few months later were able to put in our own rock concerning God’s financial provision during the time Eric was looking for a job, and then God’s provision for a new job.
The concept of memorials is found throughout the Old Testament, and the purpose to continue telling the generations all that God has done so that their faith may be strengthened.
“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” – Joshua 4:6-7
Our experiences with God’s faithfulness in the past is the best way to find faith to continue to move forward, even if we don’t know what is next. Once you have seen Him provide in ways you didn’t think possible, you can approach new situations and expect Him to do the same, even if He doesn’t do it the same way. You can trust His sovereignty and His wisdom above your own.
Those experiences and stories become your foothold for your next faith-steps.
In the moments of doubt and uncertainty, I am learning that the best weapon is the truth of God’s continual presence and action in my past – and I am then convinced I can move forward in trust that He will be present once again.