Memorials and Weddings: God’s Work In Our Lives
“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” – Joshua 4:6-7
I remember that moment well. You know why? Because it was one of those moments that are relatively commonplace and mundane…and yet, somehow it changed my life.
It was the autumn of my junior year at college, and I was walking to church all by myself. Again. During that season of my life, I found myself in an extremely vulnerable spiritual place: questioning my faith, wrestling with God, and surrounded by friends who didn’t find value in weekly church attendance. By habit, I continued my weekly visit to the old church, found my place in a pew in the balcony, and waited. Waited for God to show up, waited to see if it was worth the time and energy. Why did I even bother?
But that particular Sunday, as the congregation began the simple words of a hymn I had never before heard, I encountered God. He spoke to me through the words of that hymn, challenging my perspective and confirming his purpose for my life. That one simple moment changed the trajectory of my soul. For some reason (perhaps because I am a reluctantly typical girl), I made a commitment that one day I would play that song at my wedding day as a memorial to the moment that God worked in my life.
Memorials are compelling things. When I hear the word, I usually think of the multitude of memorials in Washington, DC: the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial. And what do these all have in common? They’re permanent monuments erected in the memory of something significant that happened. Many times, they’re stone effigies to the accomplishments of man, acknowledging some significant work that was done.
In the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, the Lord instructed his people to build memorials in honor of significant things that He had done. In Joshua 4, we read of the Lord bringing Israel and the Ark of the Covenant safely across the roaring waters of the Jordan River. When the Israelites cross to the other side, they erect 12 stone memorials as a permanent, living testimony of the things that God had done for them. When their children ask what these stones represent, the Israelites basically tell them, “This is a memorial to God’s work in our lives.”
I think that today God continues to actively and lovingly intervene in the lives of his children. He continues to show his mercy to us, to affirm his provision of and purpose for us. And I think that when He does something significant, that we have the responsibility to build a memorial to honor Him—a spiritual memorial that serves as a hallmark in our hearts to continually bear witness to the work God has done.
And so, back to my original story: about ten months ago, I became engaged to the love of my life, Isaac. At the time, I tried briefly to remember the hymn that God so powerfully used in me. But I couldn’t remember it—not the title, not a single word! Sadly but distractedly, I set the memory aside.
However, a few weeks ago, Isaac, and I were driving in the car. He tells me, “Hey, Hannah, I was listening to a worship station online, and this hymn started to play. I had never heard it before, but in that moment I felt so convicted that we need to play it at our wedding. Can you listen to it and give me your thoughts?” As the words of the hymn drift slowly, powerfully to my ear, I begin to cry. It’s the same song that God once used to change my life. And now he brought it back to me through the man who has also changed my life.
So what’s next? Isaac and I are getting married next week. And of course, during our wedding ceremony, we will play this song as a testimony to the work God has done in our lives—a living memorial to his power and grace, his willingness to actively and lovingly intervene in the lives of his children.