Nathan Schneider


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Reflections on Being Home: Spiritual Markers

On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

Joshua 4:19-24

My wife, Michelle, and I traveled to Pennsylvania this past weekend to see my family. While we were there I began to notice all of the reminders of God’s activity in my family, sometimes referred to as “spiritual markers.” These markers were everywhere, but there was one particular thing that stood out to me – the tree our family planted almost two decades ago.

We planted this tree because of God’s grace in sparing my dad’s life. He was in a horrible car accident when I was in the first grade. It happened on his way to work one morning when a driver veered into his lane and hit him head on. The accident nearly killed him, put him in a coma for many days and has caused him many physical difficulties. Yet, in spite of all of this, I have never heard my dad complain about the accident (or the physical pain he continues to endure). Instead, even when pressed by my brothers and I, he would only offer forgiveness and give credit to God for allowing him to live.

In an effort to bring God glory through the experience, my parents decided to plant a tree in our front yard. My brothers and I were told that the tree was to be a reminder of God’s grace. I have not forgotten the meaning behind the tree. Amazingly, it has stood the test of severe weather that has wiped out other trees in our yard. Now, every time I travel back to see my parents, I see the tree and I am instantly hit with a deep appreciation for the love and mercy of God.

God knows the impact a special reminder can have. This is probably why He commanded Joshua and the Israelites to set up memorial stones after crossing the Jordan River. These stones were to be a reminder, not just for those who had seen God’s work first-hand, but also for the generations to come. In fact, God instructed them that they were to be ready to answer questions from future generations. We actually find this pattern throughout the Scriptures. God’s people are setting up “markers” that remind them of God’s activity in their lives.

Christian parents have the responsibility of passing on the faith to their children. This is done most effectively in the day-to-day, life-on-life discipleship process that takes place in the home. There is also a place for parents to set up “spiritual markers” for their children; a place where a personal experience with God is marked by something clearly visible for all to see. This could mean so many different things, such as a Scripture verse that is significant to the family, a photo from around the time you or someone else in the family came to Jesus, a note that you write to your child, or anything else that reminds the family that God is active. The idea is to put something before the eyes of each family member that always reminds them of God’s faithfulness.

This blog post was originally posted on CalvaryKids.