Through my years working as a camp counselor at Forest Glen in Huntsville, TX, a number of places stood out as reminders of special moments and memories from my time as a camper and a counselor. The horse shoe pit where I played horse shoes with Counselor Animal. The fishing dock where I spent summer after summer trying to catch a fish. The Dogwood Chapel, where I prayed with Counselor Pierre to rededicate my life to Christ. The bridge where I led an amazing devotion on trusting in Christ. The mud pit where, as a camper, we had tug of war and, as a counselor, we shot off fireworks for the Fourth of July (my first time). Sometimes these places are natural, but sometimes we can set up special places to remind us of special times.
My first year as a Senior Counselor, I started a tradition I continued until today. After a real special week of camp, I would set up a stone to commemorate all we had gone through and all that God had done. I didn’t do it every week, because I wasn’t sure if the younger campers would truly enjoy it (though looking back now, I wish I had done it with them also). But there were a few special weeks where I placed a stone of remembrance.
There are now six stones located around Forest Glen, and whenever I visit I always try to go back to at least two or three of them, just to look and remember what had happened and what God had done. Each stone has a name as well– Rocky, G, Brotherhood, David, Third Island, 16. Some of the memories are shared, whether with campers or with counselors, but some are secret, known only to me.
You see, I came up with this idea from reading in Scripture of all the times that Israel or certain individuals set up Stones of Remembrance. The Hebrew word for “stone” or “stones” is ‘eben— much like the word Ebenezer, which means “Stone of the Help.” Here are a few mentions of these stones of remembrance:
– Genesis 28- Jacob’s stone he slept upon
– Joshua 4- The 12 Stones the Israelites set up
– Joshua 24- The Witness Stone under the tree
But looking further, there are other important ‘eben throughout the Old Testament. The stone that the 10 Commandments were written upon. The stones in the priest’s ephod. The stones that David used to fell Goliath. There’s a larger project at hand here, but for now I’ll stick to my point.
It’s important for us to have ‘eben in our lives, moments or places or things we can look back to or hold or see and remember what God has done. This is not idolatry– the ‘eben is not an idol but an altar. It’s possible to have our focus on the wrong thing (the worship song, our Bible, camp, etc.) but we must remember to focus on God.
In our Children’s Ministry class, we’ve been talking about how children grow in faith, whether a child needs a moment where they know they placed their faith in Christ. We know they need to have faith in Christ, but exactly how does that look? Is it in a moment, in a day, in a month, in a year, or over many years? I’m still wrestling with my thoughts about the subject, but I’ve decided this: Every person needs specific moments as markers in their journey of faith. Whether it was the moment they prayed to “receive Jesus” or when they had their first communion or when they were baptized or when they shared the gospel with a stranger, we all need moments to remember what God has done.
Faith is like a forest– it’s easy to get lost in the woods, but if we have a few trees that stand out, we can find our way. Faith is a journey, but in a journey there can be a few very important individual steps– when you turned around, when you started to run, when you finally stepped out of the valley, etc.
At my church in Cypress, TX, we’ve had worship experiences where you can walk away with an object that reminds you of that worship time and how you connected with God. I remember one girl saved a piece of cloth from a worship time, because it reminded her of the comfort God brings. Moments, objects, ‘eben— it’s not about the item itself, but what does it point to?
What are your ‘eben? What can you do to remember who God is and what He’s done?