Milestones of Faith
November 23, 2016
By Andrew Gilmore, Director of Children's Ministry
Sitting on a shelf in my office is a children’s Bible. You would not think this is very odd because I am a part of the Children’s Ministry staff here at Mt. Bethel. However, if you took one glance at this Bible, you would recognize that it is old and worn out. The front cover has a picture of Jesus sitting with children, but it is faded, ripped, and torn in several places. The pages are also tattered from overuse. I don’t read from this Bible anymore because I have other Bibles I prefer to study from as an adult.
Yet, I keep it on my shelf to help me remember God’s past work and even present work in my life. When I look at the Bible, I’m reminded of my parents who gave me the Bible as a gift at Christmas when I was just six years old. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this Bible was a means by which they were in part passing their faith on to me. When I look at this Bible, I’m reminded of my Sunday school teachers who helped to bring the stories of the Bible to life. When I look at this Bible, I’m reminded of my youth pastor and senior pastor who helped me understand and apply the scriptures to my life. When I look at this Bible, I’m reminded that God has begun a work in me that he will continue until he is finished working on me (Philippians 1:6).
When Israel had an encounter with God, they took time to recognize and remember God’s work in their lives. For example, when Joshua and the Israelites finally crossed the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land, they picked twelve stones from the river as a lasting memorial (Joshua 4:1-9). Similarly, for me, my old, tattered children’s Bible is a memory marker or milestone of my faith journey.
I wonder as you reflect on your own spiritual journey, whether in the early or later stages of Christian maturity, what are your milestones? What are the memory markers that you look back on to remind you of where God has brought you and where he is taking you? These memory markers or milestones don’t necessarily have to be physical objects. They could be the memory of a person, an event, or something else. Whatever it is, it is an instance where God has moved in your life.
I want to leave you with a final question. When Joshua and the Israelites set up the twelve stones along the river, they stood not just as a memorial for them but for their children as well (Joshua 4:6-7). The twelve stones were a way for the Israelites’ faith to endure for generations to come. Similarly, when a baby is baptized, we affirm as a congregation that we will nurture that child in the Christian faith (United Methodist Hymnal, 33). We make a commitment to cheer these young children on in the faith and to tell them of God’s work in our lives, so they can run the race as well (2 Timothy 4:7). So my question is, what memory markers or milestones of faith are we each leaving for our church community?
Andrew Gilmore, Director of Children’s Ministry