Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 7 - Altars

Hebrews 11:8-10, Genesis 12:6-7

Have you ever known someone who was involved in a long-distance relationship? Maybe you have been in a relationship like that. I met and dated my husband while I was in college, which meant that I would have to spend the summers away from him. I always dreaded going home in the summer having to be separated from him (yes, I was a desperate romantic). There were a few things that I did to help the summer pass such as writing him letters and calling him on the phone. When I would get his letters, I would read them and re-read them several times. I still missed him, but it helped me to hang on to the hope of seeing him soon (of course, at the time it felt like eternity). Reading his letters and staring at pictures of him helped remind me of the good times we had together.

While reading the story of Abraham’s call to go to Canaan, I noticed that there were two places in chapter 12 where he built an altar to God (vs. 7, 8). In verse 8, it seems he built the altar as part of worship to God, but in verse 7 it seems that he built the altar to commemorate the spot where he had an encounter with God. It is in this spot, at the tree of Moreh, where God promised Abraham that his offspring would inherit the land. Often, people would build altars or put up “standing stones” in spots to show that something of great significance had happened there. The point of the practice was so that the person who put up the altar would come to the spot and remember what happened, or so that other people would ask why the altar or standing stone was there.

I think it is a great practice to have a way to commemorate a great moment with God. In Abraham’s example at Moreh, God had made a promise to Abraham that he would never get to see in his life, but he still clung to his faith that God always kept His promises and built an altar to commemorate it. I think it is a lesson to take with us in our daily lives. God has made an eternal promise for us (John 3:16), but do we have something that will help us keep our focus on it? Maybe God has planted a vision that will take a long time to come about. What do you have to remind yourself that you are doing God’s work? God has several other promises for us in the Bible that I know I have clung to during difficult times. My standing stone is sometimes as simple as a bookmark with a Bible verse on it that reminds me of a promise, or it could be a poster on a wall. Remembering what God says and what He does inspires hope and motivates us to press on.

How is God working in your life today? What has he done in your life? How can you commemorate those moments?

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