When it comes to marriage, after recently celebrating our one-year anniversary, my husband and I are babies. In fact, because we met only two years and four months ago, we haven’t even known each other very long. When people ask about our anniversary, I keep exclaiming with a fist-pump and a smile on my face, “We made it!”
Most days, we feel pretty new at everything in our lives. For me it’s a new state, new region, new climate, new job… For both of us it’s a new church, new role as homeowners, new family, new friends, new joys, and new challenges.
That’s a lot of NEW.
Our anniversary weekend was much busier than we might have otherwise chosen, as many events and opportunities piled up into a two-day period. All within about 48 hours, we had to choose between things like a wedding and reception, a free multi-day Christian music festival, visiting with family who had come from out of town, watching the opening day of college football season, going with family to the state fair, AND celebrating our anniversary. It’s like we had too many blessings to try to receive and enjoy in such a short period of time.
And let’s just say I don’t always handle stress, pressure, and over-loaded schedules with a calm sense of grace.
However, my favorite moment of the entire weekend came unexpectedly on Sunday – our anniversary. On a random trip to Walmart that was not originally scheduled in our plan for the weekend, my husband surprised me by pulling off at a state park where we had gone on one of our first dates. We’ve been there a few times together over the last couple of years, hiking to the top of a large hill to look out over the landscape. Bringing our Bibles to share a devotion together. Taking our dog for a little adventure and exercise. This beautiful site holds special meaning for me in particular because it was on our first visit there, holding his hand and walking back down the path to return to the car, that I felt the Lord show His love for and intimate knowledge and understanding of me in His detailed design and plan for bringing us together.
This time on our anniversary, we didn’t climb to the top. Instead, we remained in the car, looking at this place from a distance. I don’t know if he planned it ahead of time or felt inspired in the moment, but my husband used that place to challenge me to remember our year together.
Some days it’s hard.
We get so busy and caught up in the daily tasks of life: long hours at our jobs that sometimes feel like they dominate our time and energy; responsibilities at home such as cooking, cleaning, and renovation projects; the desire for entertainment, relaxation, and time with friends… (We don’t even have kids yet… I know that’s a whole different league of busy!)
It can be hard to remember.
Even on a more moment-by-moment basis. One of us says or does something hurtful or possibly even thoughtless. The other becomes defensive, and the entire mood of the conversation, day, or relationship feels like it begins to harden or dry up.
It can be hard to remember.
In Joshua 3, the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant and miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry ground to enter into the Promised Land for the very first time. Then in chapter 4, God commanded Joshua to call one man from each of the twelve tribes to carry a stone from the midst of the Jordan to build a monument on the other side.
He wanted them to remember.
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. Joshua 4:20-24
Here’s a part that I’ve often overlooked: even though this was the fulfillment of God’s promise to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey, they were actually entering into war.
13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. Joshua 4:13
God knew they were walking into challenges and trials, both literally and figuratively. They would need to remember where they had come from and what God had done. They would need a visual reminder and conversation starter to pass along the heritage of God’s faithfulness to their children.
In the church world, these are sometimes called “stones of remembrance.”
Perhaps we need them in our homes as well, whether they be real stones or another significant object or picture. Our home is decorated with pictures from our engagement and wedding and a framed copy of our vows. Even my bridal bouquet (one of the benefits of using fake flowers!) sits in a vase on the dresser in our bedroom. We have stones of remembrance all around us, so now we just need to slow down and pay attention to them so they can help us to remember.
Remember how God brought us together.
Remember how He confirmed His plans for us.
Remember the mission that the Lord has called us to pursue and accomplish together.
Then we will be filled with the faith and love we need for today, tomorrow, and the next fifty+ years.