Past, Present, and Future
By John Braland, President of IMF's Board of Directors
A few months ago I went to a MN Gophers hockey game. While there I looked up and read all the banners that hang proudly from the ceiling commemorating when the Gophers won national championships. If you look closely there are markers all over society proclaiming significant events. The Israelites followed ancient customs by setting up standing stones as a reminder of God's covenant and supernatural acts on their behalf. These stones are known as “Massebah.”
This past week I read Psalm 78 which helped me to see why we need to have spiritual markers in our life. The author of Psalm 78:1-7 writes:
“2for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—3…stories our ancestors handed down to us. 4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders... 7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:1-7
There are three reasons why spiritual markers are important. First, spiritual markers reveal the presence of God in my past. The Massebah stood as a monument to what God had done in the Israelites history. Generation after generation could see the stones and heard the stories and it encouraged them.
I have never piled rocks to remind me of what God has done in my life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point to any spiritual markers in my life. I have a cross that we gave out at one of our Good Friday Experiences. I still have a candle from the Good Friday experience in 2016. A couple of years ago I did a series called Broken and Blessed and handed out a piece of broken pottery to everyone in attendance. I can also look at pictures that remind me of spiritual markers. When I look at these, I am reminded how faithful God has been. What spiritual markers do you have? Can you think of a time this past year when God moved in a powerful way in your life? It is our job to proclaim the works he has done.
Second, spiritual markers provide assurance that God is with me now. The ancients would pass by the Hebrew massebah and it would reassure them that God was with them wherever they went. I keep my wooden cross, candle, and piece of broken pottery to remind me that God is still with me. Past victories give us present hope. Stay strong, God is still with you.
And third, spiritual markers encourage me to trust God with my tomorrow. The Israelites often forgot about all that God had done for them and turned away from him. When they walked away from God they walked away from God’s blessing. They would be overrun by their enemies, forced into slavery, and have to forfeit their land and possessions. Over time they would start to remember just how good God was and repent and turn back to him and he would bless them again. This happened over and over and, the truth is, the same thing happens to you and I.
The author of Hebrews writes: “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:2 NIV
To those who are born again the cross is the most powerful massebah we have because it reminds us of the manifest power of God. God is always with us, always willing to assist and guide and care for us. The cross reminds us that Christ came in the flesh to reveal the power of God.
So I challenge you to live out your faith more than ever before. Look back and review what God has done and be encouraged because God is not done with you yet. There is hope for your family to be restored, for your dreams to come to fruition, for you to connect with others, for you to find the help you need, there is hope because there is an empty cross.