It’s been a long time since I’ve built an altar to the Lord, at least 10 years. The last time I remember significantly marking a time of remembrance this way was when I worked for South Hills in Las Vegas. We had just moved into our store-front property and had our first Sunday worship service. There was no more setup Friday nights at the middle school or pleas for tear-down workers directly after the service. We knew the store-front was only a stop in the final location of the church that was going to be built but God had moved and provided in a mighty way. Our children’s ministry would no longer be meeting in the hallways and classrooms of the school. We wanted to both celebrate and mark this momentous time in the church.
That Sunday I took both of my classes outside and each child picked a stone. We taught the importance of giving thanks and remembering what the Lord had done for us and the significance building an altar can have today. He had heard the prayers of his people- he provided resources, expanded vision and it was being realized and new believers were being added to the church. Kids were making decisions to be baptized and the Gospel was being made knowing this little part of the Vegas valley. And so, we took turns sharing where we saw God at work, what we were thankful for; each child remembering how good he is and then placing their stones one on top of another forming an altar to the Lord.
I find myself, almost 15 years later, ready to build that altar again, but this time with my own kids, my family. Remembering the goodness of the Lord and what he has done in the last 10 years of our lives in the DR. So, we woke early, gathered our kiddos, and everyone collected stones together. We walked to our favorite place where we see God so clearly; the beach. Alan shared about the Old Testament altars and why we make them today. And then one by one each shared what they were grateful for, what they were remembering from this special time the Lord allowed us to live here. It was remarkable to watch my kids hold a stone, turning it over in their hands as they truly thought about what these past seven years meant to them. What a powerful and beautiful way to mark the end of a season. The turning of the times. We had our shoes off which was good, because it felt very much like a “Holy ground” moment standing their, hands held tightly, praying around our little pile of rocks on the beach.
We have 4 more days here, or as I would tell my littles, 3 more sleeps. And then on that fourth day we will awake, our friends will arrive and we will load up our 12 suitcases, puppy and kids and set out for a new adventure. And when we arrive, and I don’t just mean to Vegas, we know it’s not our final stop so when we “arrive” where he will have us… when he makes clear what is next for us, we will stop and we will make a new altar and give thanks for the new season he is ushering in; for the ways he will teach us and continue to lead us in the coming months and years. We will always remember and choose to give thanks.