Last night we watched reminders lighting up the sky all around us. Fireworks, sparklers, booms, and cracklings all helped us remember the battles that men fought to earn our country’s freedom. Independence Day commemorates the beginnings of our nation, and if we want to do our job well, we will take advantage of the holiday to teach our children about God’s hand in our country’s history.
Memorials are powerful teaching tools. God uses them. We should use them.
God used physical things to help the Israelites remember.
- A pot of manna in the ark of the covenant reminded them of God’s care and provision in the wilderness (Ex. 16:33-34).
- The Passover celebration reminded them of God’s merciful sparing of their firstborn while Egyptian firstborns died. “And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery'” (Ex. 13:14-15. ESV).
- A stone called “Ebenezer” proclaimed, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us“, a pile of stones commemorated crossing the Jordan River on dry ground, two stones were on the priest’s ephod “for a memorial” and twelve stones were on his breastplate “for a memorial”.
- Many Psalms (78,105, 106, 135,136) reminded the people as they sang, of their history and of God’s mercy and power displayed in that history.
- Even the fringe at the bottom of their robes was designed to remind them of God’s commandments and the importance of obeying them (Num. 15:38-39).
God uses physical things — like bread and wine — to help us remember.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
We can use physical things to help our children remember.
God is constantly at work in our lives. His grace is always evident. We can use physical things to help our children remember that grace — the day of their births, the times of special provision or deliverance, the times of shared joy and shared sorrows. We can say with the Psalmist about all our days, “My times are in thy hands” (Ps. 31:15), and help our children remember that truth with memorials.
- Baby books, photo albums, pictures on the walls. (By the way, when it comes to scrapbooking and photo albums, don’t let perfectionism keep you from being a faithful family historian. If God could use a rock named Ebenezer as memorial for the Israelites, He can use whatever our humble efforts produce — even if it’s a box full of jumbled photos — to help our children remember and give thanks for His grace!)
- An empty book filled with God’s answers to prayers. What a blessing to read back over the record of God’s faithfulness in our households!
- Your own unique family holiday that commemorates God’s special deliverance or provision in your family. For years our family celebrated the day that God graciously spared our little two-year-old son from death.
- Special trophies, figurines, and certificates (purchased or homemade, and remember again, God used rocks to help people remember; it doesn’t have to be fancy) that memorialize special events and accomplishments, made possible by God’s grace, in the lives of our children — physical remembrances that we can point to and remind them of God’s empowering grace
- A tree planted in honor of a significant event or person in the family
- A few words embroidered into the hem of a dress or outfit that was worn on a special occasion
- A piece of jewelry that seals a covenant and reminds its wearer of God’s past, present, and future work in his or her life.
- A just-for-you song that continually points a child back to God as his strength and protector
- A book of family courtship stories and photos to point future grandchildren to God’s loving hand in their family’s history
- Special days of celebration that honor grandparents and earlier ancestors who have been used by God to profoundly influence your family
The possibilities are almost endless (and we can be as simple or as elaborate as we like)! As mamas, the role of family historian primarily falls to us. In the midst of all the other duties we have, the time we invest in celebrating and memorializing can continually point our children to God and His faithfulness — and that’s where we want to point them!