Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spiritual Souvenirs

Summer is over. In one week, students in Mesa, AZ will start back up in classes. One chapter closes, and a new page is turned. Another summer of ministry come and gone. Summer camps, mission trips, late night conversations, spontaneous road trips and movie nights, new friendships, and transformative moments.

It's so easy to forget it all.

Back in the Old Testament, starting with Abraham, the Israelite people would often wander around in the desert. Whenever they would have an encounter with God, they would do a few important things:

  • A physical reminder. The people would create some sort of tangible reminder of what God had done in this place. Usually, this was in the form of an altar or a pile of rocks. In some instances, it was on the person, i.e. circumcision or Jacob's hip after wrestling with God.
  • A new name. Whether this was the name of a place--like Jacob naming Bethel in Genesis 28--or the name of a person--like God renaming Jacob in Genesis 32--a new name signified a new identity.
  • A decision to live differently. People made vows and promises to the Lord. They would commit themselves to worshiping Him alone, to experiencing His blessings through faith in Him. It wasn't enough to simply encounter God; a person was changed by the experience.
Last night at our weekly gathering, I asked our high school students to do a few things. First, to come up with their top 3 memories of the summer. These could be people, places, or experiences; they could be happy, sad, fun, serious, or any other emotion. Reflecting upon these memories, we asked the question, "what has God been doing in your life in the past three months?" Then, during a time of worship, each student approached a station and picked up their own stone--a physical reminder. They wrote a single word or phrase about the summer of 2011--they gave their summer a name. Finally, we made individual decisions to pursue the Lord in this new season. These stones are now spiritual souvenirs, tangible reminders of what God did these past months.

I wrote the phrase "new life" on my stone. What would you write on your stone for the summer of 2011?

1 comment: