The sunlight teased in and out of the treetops and fell like drops onto the dirt pathway we carefully navigated along. My son gently placed the stones he had painted just thirty minutes prior into my hands — both of the stones covered in a rainbow of polka dots. Rainbows mean a lot to me, and I smiled proudly at his good taste.
Gathered with other spouses and kids, we strolled along the Special Operations Memorial Trail at a leisurely pace to accommodate little legs and chatted comfortably in community. My little one darted ahead, searching for the perfect place to leave his stones. At five years old, he understood we were there to remember people like his daddy’s friend who had died while serving our country.
It had been a long time since I’d been on a walk to remember, and I’d forgotten how good it felt to recall sacred memories while breathing in the fresh, crisp air. It seemed to help cleanse and heal the wounds grief left behind.
My mind flashed back to almost a decade prior when my husband and I and our behemoth of a dog, Opie, first walked to remember. Our hearts were raw with grief over losing our daughter, and I desperately fought to remember her and felt so fearful of forgetting. That day we walked a short, somber mile. At the end of the walk, my hands cupped a small, folded envelope that contained a butterfly inside for us to release. Before flying off with the wind, the butterfly lingered a moment on my hand.
God’s faithfulness in that devastating season would linger and lift and carry me like the wind under that butterfly’s delicate wings.
Remembering soothes the aches in our souls, but we can be forgetful, can’t we?
I don’t just worry about forgetting things like the way my sweet girl smelled when she was freshly bathed and wrapped all snug in her yellow duck towel. I struggle with forgetting small everyday things, like switching the last load of wash into the dryer or what two items I originally went to Target to buy as I stare at the red cart full of cute non-necessities or where I last set my glass of water.
I can be forgetful in my faith too.
When an unexpected event flipped my life upside down again, almost ten years after burying my little girl, I experienced an immediate case of spiritual amnesia. Thrown into another painful darkness, I lost sight of and temporarily forgot all that God had done to help me in that season ten years earlier. My memory erased His faithfulness, and my soul was thrust into anguish.
Caught in spiritual warfare, I fought hard to recall God’s faithfulness and reclaim His promises, and by His Spirit and grace, He faithfully helped me emerge from yet another dark pit.
I realized then that I had intentionally created countless ways to remember my child and other loved ones who had passed, but I needed ways to intentionally remember God’s faithfulness as well.
The first time I heard of an Ebenezer stone, I had no idea what it was (except to think of Ebenezer Scrooge). But intrigued, I learned of the story in 1 Samuel 7, in which Samuel commemorates the victory the Lord gave to the Israelites after they had repented and turned back to Him. In verse 12, Samuel names a stone “Ebenezer,” explaining: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” The stone marked God’s help. God helped them once, and they knew they would need it again, and they didn’t want to forget.
When my memory seemed wiped clean of God’s help in my past, I was taken aback by how quickly my faith faded and my heart began to harden and turn cold, like a stone. Turns out the character of Ebenezer Scrooge became a bit too familiar for me in those moments.
Without our own Ebenezer stones to help us remember God’s help, our hearts can become Scrooge-like, or stone-like, in our forgetfulness.
My Ebenezer stone may not be Pinterest-worthy, but it is helpful in its practicality. I simply keep a running track record of God’s faithfulness in my journal. When I find myself struggling spiritually, I recognize I’m slipping into forgetfulness, and then I flip open my journal and trace my finger over the list of God’s help. In doing so, my faith and hope is renewed as I remember.
Here’s some really good news: Even when we forget God and the good things He’s done for us, God never forgets His promises, and He never forgets us.
In Genesis 9:16, God tells Noah, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember.”
That day on the memorial trail when my little guy placed his rainbow stones in my hands, the deeper meaning wasn’t lost on me, and my soul couldn’t help but smile.
Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Psalm 103:2 (NLT)
Think back to a time when the Lord has been your help.
How can you mark His faithfulness in your life?
Even when we forget God and the good things He’s done for us, God never forgets His promises, and He never forgets us. -Kristin Vanderlip: Click To Tweet