This is part 2 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. Head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline to be use here in part 2.
Recap from Part 1: Stones of Remembrance Timeline
First, if you are coming here today having completed a big long timeline of your life, one that has set on a paper "stone of remembrance" of people, places and experiences that have shaped your life, I want to say, "kudos!" That likely took a lot of prayer, emotion, and perseverance of mind.
I imagine it took just as much effort as was required of the 12 men in Joshua 4 who were commanded to "take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder." These large stones would then be set in place as a memorial of remembrance. So that, when future generations asked, ‘What do these stones mean?’ they would be reminded, "The Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever" (Joshua 4:21-24, ESV).
Reflection & Application
Have you ever considered that by taking the time to remember and record the people, places and experiences of your life it would be possible to see how your life is made up of stories that testify to God’s presence and work on this Earth?
Do you believe that just as the stones set up in Joshua 4 were meant to show all the peoples of the earth the hand of the Lord is mighty to save, your "stones" too can be set up to do the same?
What if your "stones" (stacked one on top of the other) are meant to display God's sovereignty, grace and relentless love?
I believe they are. I believe they will. I believe that you just might need some tools to help you get those stones set up and put in place in such a way that others can see [read] them.
In not too long, upon seeing [reading about] them, your children or others will soon be asking, "What do those stones mean?" And you'll be able to answer them, with a testimony that says, "The hand of God is mighty to save. The love of God is sovereign. The life of being a chosen one is full of hosanna ("Help! Save me now!") moments, and a God who restores, redeems every one of them for His good purposes.
Yet, setting up those "stones" and sharing what they mean in light of heaven can be very, very hard.
There are a myriad of reasons but I think these are the top three:
This session's tool is designed to help you jump over all of the above hangups you might face in taking the "stones of remembrance" of your life and setting them up as a memorial for you and "your people" to be reminded of God's deliverance, faithfulness and presence in your journey from here to heaven.
Tool 2: Thematic Labeling of “Stones”
Thematic Labeling of “Stones” (organizational structure): The Bible sets up for us a storyline pattern that is used in in nearly every book or movie that leaves the reader or viewer feeling satisfied at the end. (Do you find this a coincidence? I don’t!).
All good stories have these components:
It can be helpful to categorize your experiences and memories into these themes for a few reasons. First, it begins to help you frame your story in light of the Gospel. Second, it allows you to go into the Bible and find passages that relate to the theme of your story and it’s correspondence to Truths from God’s word. Third, it can help you shape what you are called to share with others in a way that is engaging and satisfying to the hearer. Forth, when we view our story in this way, we can more easily see that there is a divine and Holy author writing a beautiful story out of our lives.
After you have exhausted yourself with remembering, then go back and add themes (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) to the “stones” you have placed on your timeline. Try to categorize all “stones” with at least one of the themes, but each experience you recall doesn’t need to have all four components.
Creation: Times when something new was birthed, reborn or made new: education, marriages, jobs, children, dreams, visions… → Highlight these events/memories in yellow.
Fall: Times when something was broken, torn away, damaged, or lost. This could be physically, emotionally or spiritually. Desert times. Hardships caused by choices you made or circumstances around you. → Highlight these events/memories in green.
Redemption: Memories of times when you witnessed God bringing you (or someone else) to turning point: Turning from something that was distracting you from him and going back to him. → Highlight these in blue.
Restoration: Memories of something in you or around you being made new, healed restored, or cleaned up. → Highlight these events/memories in pink.
Tips to help with getting your ideas out of your head and onto paper:
The Next Step
Connecting the people, places and experiences of your life to Truths and specific Bible verses can help deepen the experience of remembering and labeling the "stones" of your timeline. The retelling of our experiences and reflections of what we have learned from them are powerful and valuable. Yet, when we can also weave the words of Scripture in to support the themes or lessons we have learned, there is a "breath of life" that is added, increasing the power and impact because we are allowing God's words to be present in our remembering, writing, and speaking.
So, the next step to take after labeling all your stones into a category is to find Bible passages that support the theme or what you learned from the experience. You can use your knowledge of the Bible (verses you have memorized), your Bible's Topical Concordance (if it has one) or an online Topic Bible (for example, Biblegateway.com or Biblehub.com) to find Scripture or biblical truths that could be used when it comes time to write about or share your "stones" with others.
Then, either on a separate sheet of paper or next to each "stone" on your timeline, record the Bible verses you find that could be worked into the telling of your story. Later, this will help you to convey your intended message to your reader or listener.
I would like to close this post with a testimony to how this tool, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, set one woman free and empowered her to claim a promise from the Bible over her future.
A few weeks after teaching this series as a class to a small group of women, I received a note from an attendee. In it was written, "I did my timeline on a literal line from birth --> our class. When I finished my line, the Spirit prompted me to subtract the years depression started (month and year) until class. It was exactly 40 years! Then the Spirit said, 'You were in the desert 40 years and now you're out!' Believe me, I am claiming that promise!"
I close with this for two reasons:
I have spent a lot of months debating what to do with this Go and See series that in a lot of ways seems half-finished. I debated ever teaching it again. But when I look back at this note, I am reminded that I am to persevere in helping others uncover their God-given gifts so that we can all keep building one another up, cheering one another one, and ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven through the body of Christ. Lifting stones is hard work. Investing our talents is sometimes exhausting. But the rewards coming at the end of the race will be worth it.
Nevertheless, to run the race marked out for you, you may first need to step into discovering how your life's story is revealing who you are, who you are called to minister to and how you are designed to do so with joy, passion and love. Remember to invite the Holy Spirit in to each step of this process as a guide who holds the light that is the lamp leading you to understanding. Let your mind and soul trust that your work is not in vain and that your Heavenly Father delights in watching you open the gifts he has given you for such a time as this.
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.