My dad is 91 years old. He lived through the depression and knows the heartache of being broke, trying to farm with horses during the dust bowl years. Hardship was just part of everyday life. It wasn’t just farming that was hard, his family dynamics were hard too. His grandfather would beat him and one time he chopped up my dad’s wooden toy truck – the only toy he had. Yet in spite of all these hardships my dad still sees the hand of God on his life. He praises God for a mother who, although destitute, frequently quoted Habakkuk 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.
When you read that passage to my dad he starts crying. Every time.
Dad has stories - his altars of remembrance - of God’s intervention in his career choice. While hitchhiking one day (that’s how he got to college in California every day) the guy that picked him up gave him some career info that caused him to completely change his career path towards Agricultural Economics. Now, at 91 he remembers how that God blessed that path.
Dad has stories - his altars of remembrance - of God preserving the life of my mom, who was buried in an avalanche at Bridger Bowl Montana. While he was getting his master’s degree in Ag. Econ. from Montana State and they’d go skiing frequently and one day things went bad. They were crossing a bowl and triggered an avalanche. Dad skied out of the path, but mom headed down to gain some speed before she skied out of its path -but, as you may know, you can’t outrun an avalanche. She was completely buried except for her hand. Dad skied down to get help and they found mom’s hand barely protruding above the snow just before she suffocated. Dad remembers how God blessed their lives together.
Dad’s life was hard. He could have chosen to complain about how hard it was. But instead, he remembers God’s involvement in his life. He sees God’s hand through all the pain and hardship. These are the equivalent of all the piles of rocks that we’ve been seeing in Joshua 1-10. They were signs to remember God’s faithfulness. Like dad’s path, Israel’s path was not easy, but Joshua was trying to instruct Israel to remember their past through the lens of God’s goodness, provision and protection, not their pain and difficulty.
How are you doing with that?