This passage compelled me to select 12 "stones" from my own faith/life journey to "set-up"(record) as a memorial (personal testimony) of God's faithfulness & provision:
#1 My family - not perfect by any stretch - but helped me understand early on that I needed Jesus. At 8 yrs I trusted Him to be my Savior. A decision I’ve never regretted, despite others I have.
#2 My church. I was 11 when my dad was diagnosed w/ cancer & 14 when he died. My mom was mentally &/or physically ill continually. Don't want to think about where I'd be now if my church family hadn't embraced me as they did.
#3 Despite many poor choices (mine & other's) growing up God spared me from many of the worst of possible consequences. I realize now that the circumstances that "hardened" me, God later transformed into something good - something He could use. For one, among many, I became much more compassionate to others w/ similar issues I'd been immersed in &/or running away from.
#4 Despite marrying smack out of high school, (not necessarily for all the right reasons) The LORD blessed me w/ a husband who is still my best friend – a “constant” amidst constant change. For a long time, I kinda hoped he'd change, that he'd be different - but - when I changed, at some point I realized that I admire him more than any other person on this earth & now I find myself wanting - even trying(!) - to be more like him.
He would tell you that he has changed too...& to a certain degree I'd agree. He is more like me - & I am more like Him. I guess that's what "relationship" does to those involved, & after 23 years of marriage perhaps it's only natural. But - nonetheless, the big thing that I wanted him to change hasn't changed all that much & yet it's now on the the long list of things I admire about him & on the short list of things I admire most about him.
#5 The LORD gave & took away Baby Jeremy & called on us to make incredibly difficult decisions, thereby giving us the opportunity to demonstrate indeed our faith was real - which in a strange way, was an answer to prayer.
#6 & 7 Within weeks of each other, my mom & little brother (w/
My brother's illness & circumstances required me to make decisions I felt only God should make & re-affirmed how much I need Him. The "aftermath" drove me back to a more right relationship w/ God in a passionate attempt to never not know what His will is in any given situation ever again - & to find the place where I'm not resting so comfortably that I'm taking advantage of His amazing grace nor trying to earn His unconditional love. I've lived both extremes. I’ll likely never know, this side of heaven, if I should've handled that most difficult decision differently but despite all I feel should've done better/differently, I sense God guided me thru' it.
#8 Looking back, I sense The LORD set me up(!) (specific time/place/circumstances) for "surgery" - removal of so much "YUCK!" - to make me more like Him (still have a long way to go!)...I have (emotional) scars to prove it - but I find them to be very reassuring. They're part of me now because part of me no longer exists ... & that's a good thing.
#9 "Recovery" When I admitted I needed & asked for help (key turning point!) God gave me a new & very dear friend ("A") for just "such a time as this" & bro't an old friend ("D") across the country on various occasions (for reasons totally unrelated to me)! Both ladies were/have been such an encouragement. In a sense they were my recovery nurses ... & our church here doubled as my recovery room.
#10 When the cry of my heart was finally "Please! Make Yourself real to me, LORD!" He did! ...in ways so personal & hard to explain yet I've tried at times - & I journaled furiously thru' it. To this day that is my favorite prayer to pray.
# 11 yet another big test... Playmaker was preliminarily diagnosed w/ JDMS...after the initial shock, lots of prayer & seeing many doctors at prestigious medical facilities & undergoing tons of tests, we were incredibly relieved to have a stockpile of info indicating that's not what she has (praise God!) nor was their any indication that she might have a number of other possibilities they tested for. "In the end" we had a lot more information but no real answers. "Ironically" "A" used to be a pediatrician! Here I gained a much greater appreciation for how incredibly timely this Christian, professional, personal & trustworthy relationship was (still is!).
Now - 4-5 years later Playmaker is still strong/healthy/athletic - tho' occasionally she still has some of the same annoying symptoms she had back then - but nothing has really changed or gotten any worse - & I finally resigned myself to the understanding that only God knows for sure what she has & if/when He wants us to know for sure, He'll make sure we do. At the advice of an amazing doctor (& how we connected w/ Him is a whole other "God story") we have scaled our efforts to find answers way back to having her monitored periodically for any changes. This has all been one of those ongoing situations where God has taught us so much in the absence of answers. For one, what you know is not nearly as important as Who You Know.
#12 The LORD gave & took yet another new friend - this friendship was with one whose body & mind embodied so much of what I sensed I'd failed miserably dealing with in the past. By the time we became friends many other friends of hers had - simply put - been "burnt-out". "S" needed a friend & I needed to exercise what I'd learned (compassion). When The LORD took "S", He left me w/ a sense of confidence & yet another confirmation that His strength is made perfect in (my!) weakness - & that He works all things together for good to those who love Him & are called according to His purpose.I'm struck by how many of my "stones" are relationships (the consistent theme/pattern/design! in both God's Word & His creation). In history this all took place after the Israelites wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40yrs - & in my story I too collected these "stones" as I was pushing 40. At the time, the Israelites were heading/being prepared to enter the promised land - & so I'm encouraged(!) & can't help but wonder what God has prepared for me, at such a time as this, given the striking similarities in MyStory of History.