When a farmer would take oxen and a plow he had the purpose to till the ground for planting this year’s crop which would feed his family and others. I have seen oxen yoked together and they are massive animals. They plod along under the guidance of the farmer. The straps leading the oxen go back to the farmer, either in his hands or around his back. In turning around to look back at the accomplished work, the farmer’s turning action could lead the oxen back over the work already completed and destroying the work by burying over the seeds already planted.
In the Old Testament, God wants the children of Israel to be able to look back and see what he had done for them. He had carried them out of hard times, bondage, and the threat of destruction at the hands of the Egyptian army. He had heard their pleas for food and water and has satisfied their needs. When they rebelled, he was there as a correcting parent. Now he was giving them a land of milk and honey and they would not have to plant a tree or build a city. The greatness of God seen by what he has done.
At times in our lives we need a memorial pillar made of the stones gathered during the roughest times of our lives as a memorial for ourselves and our children of the great things God has done for us. We do not need to look back at our former life with regrets because of the righteous demands of the Christ-centered life. We do not need to think back to the times as troubles or as hardships but pick up the stones of those events and build an altar to God.
I can think of a few events: God carried me through divorce and through two near death medical situations. He has brought me to college so one day I could go to seminary and into the pastorate. He has saved me by two men at a car lot when I was twenty-six with no real aim in life. He walked with me through the waters of baptism when I gave him my life and he was there during the baptisms of fire for his son’s namesake.
I never try to think about what my life “could have been” but instead thank him for what it has become. I went to college to study hotel management and now provide hospitality as part of the ministry of the gospel. I learned how to manage and now I serve. I learned how to add up figures to know how to run a business and now I figure it is all up to God. My memorial pillar grows each day. How about yours?