Commentaries / Commentary
I received word yesterday of the death of a dear friend's father; my friend was overcome with "what ifs" and "if onlys" and "I should haves." Even as my heart ached for her I could sense God's Father love surrounding her and His timeless reminder that although all might seem lost and broken, God's economy is not of this world. He is in the redemption and restoration business and therein lies our hope! Even in the midst of pain and suffering that is inevitable in our fallen world, the power that raised Christ from the dead lives in those who believe in Him and works in our circumstances for our ultimate good and for the good and perfect will of God.
In less than a week we, as a nation, will celebrate Memorial Day. For many it is the start of the summer season - boating and barbecues, graduations and new beginnings, and upcoming summer vacations. Here in the New England area, one breaks out the flip-flops and hoists the flag up along the edge of the perennial bed. I start planning the perfect spot to drink iced tea and start exposing pasty winter white skin to the sun. For others, Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifice of loved ones - those who have served their country and fallen in war; it is day where one can feel conflicting emotions ranging from pride to outrage at the course of our nation's involvement in both civil and world-wide conflict. It is a day to think of our country's heroes and we celebrate them in parades across the land; we raise the flag and salute the individuals who represent some of the best America has to offer.
Remembering and building memorials or "markers" has a long history. Throughout the Old Testament, God's people set up piles of stones to mark places of spiritual significance (see, for example, Genesis 28 or Joshua 4). What I think is especially significant is that these memorials were a physical reminder of God's tangible presence and work on His people's behalf in a moment of human history. The stones "marked the spot" where God had been faithful. But note that the people never dwelt in these places; we are not called to live in our pasts. We mark the spot and we move on; the stones serve as faith builders on our journey forward.
Our God is outside of time; He is present in our pasts, present in the immediacy of the present, and present in our futures, and He has told us He will never leave nor forsake us. He has also told us that He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5, II Cor. 5:17) and this includes our past, present and future! So, on this Memorial Day, may we remember His faithfulness even in the midst of our pain and may we hold fast to His promises of redemption and restoration. Even though our earthly eyes may not perceive it, this does not change the fact that it is so!
This month we offer to you on our website a Memorial Day special that includes a 2003 Memorial Day sermon by Peter Marshall and a perpetual calendar with inspiring words to remember God's presence in our history every day of the year.
May we be faithful stewards of the good gifts God has entrusted to us as a nation and may He give us grace to remember and thank Him for His goodness and faithfulness to us as individuals.
Blessings and Happy Memorial Day!
Mary E. Marshall
President, Peter Marshall Ministries, Inc.
The late Rev. Peter Marshall (1940-2010) was a Presbyterian minister who for over forty years gained national recognition as a preacher on Christian growth and discipleship.
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