“Therefore, these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
- Joshua 4:7
When my kids were younger, we always played the Would You Rather…? game. You know the game: Would you rather win by a blowout or win on the last play of the game? Would you rather be the worst player on the best team or best player on the worst team? It was a great game to get our kids to make a decision and explain why they chose their answer. We had lots of great discussion, and even some arguing!
If you would ask me now, “Would you rather spend time thinking about the past or the future?”, I would quickly say the future. I always have been the guy that loves to talk about what could be and what should be. Who wants to be stuck in the past? Spending time on vision is what I like, because leaders are forward thinkers. Yes, evaluating the past can help us get better, but only so that we can improve the future!
God knows that we have trouble remembering His power, promises and provisions. It has been a problem for humanity since the beginning. Throughout the Old Testament, God is always reminding His people to Stop, Drop and Remember. Many times, He reprimanded the Israelites for not remembering. We read in Deuteronomy 6:12 of Moses issuing Israel a warning before entering the Promised Land, because He knew people are prone to forget: “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
In Joshua 4, God instructs Israel to build two altars of 12 stones after crossing the Jordan. God says in Joshua 4:7, “Therefore, these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.” Memorial is the Hebrew word for “to remember.” God always wants us to remember His faithfulness. He commanded them to build altars as signs of remembrance. He wanted them to have hope in His future promises, but He also wanted them to fully grasp the power of remembering.
It takes discipline to stop, unplug and step away from a busy life; then to drop to our knees and ask the Lord to reveal His mighty work through prayer. Taking time to remember His goodness, greatness and graciousness only happens if we stop and pray. It is too easy to just keep moving through life and look for God’s next blessing.
Since it is so hard for me to remember, I have implemented three exercises I do at the end of each year that forces me to Stop, Drop and Remember:
1. Top 10 List: I create a list of 10 people who have impacted my life the most over the past year. (You can read the full Global Grit I wrote last year about it here.) There are 365 days for me to improve, grow, learn and get stretched, but I did not do it on my own. It took a host of other people investing in me and influencing me along the way. These are people who poured out what God had poured into their lives; they encouraged, educated and inspired me to grow in my walk with Christ and become someone I couldn’t be on my own. When I Stop, Drop and Remember the people God has placed in my life, I get a better understanding of His goodness, greatness and graciousness. Once I create my list, I let them know how they have impacted my life.
2. One Word Review: Since 1999, I have practiced the discipline of developing a One Word vision for the year. It has been life-changing! Again, it is easy for me to get excited about the upcoming year and focus on my One Word for the new year. Therefore, I created a One Word Review (you can download it here) to evaluate how living out my One Word during the year was a journey of ups and downs that has shaped me into the person God desired for me to become. Going through the One Word Review at the end of each year forces me to evaluate who I have become, not just what I accomplished.
3. Ministry Highlights: Taking time to Stop, Drop and Remember how God showed up through FCA around the world is humbling. Each year, we put together the Ministry Impact Report and Ministry Impact Video as a way to capture and celebrate God’s faithfulness. We are thankful for the hundreds of faithful warriors around the world who are serving in 84 countries. Instead of creating the next big ministry vision and plan, our International Office takes a day of prayer together to Stop, Drop and Remember His goodness, greatness and graciousness.
Before the New Year arrives, take time to reflect. Maybe you can implement one of these exercises to help you value the past. Don’t embrace a new year until you have taken time to Stop, Drop and Remember. You might be surprised what God reveals to you.
Dear Lord God, I want to remember Your power, promises and provisions. Help me always to remember your goodness, greatness and graciousness. You have been faithful to me throughout the entire year. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.