x marks the spot

One of my favorite things about the Old Testament is the stories of people building an altar to commemorate a moment with God. Abraham did it when God promised to make him into a great nation.

Moses did it when the sun stood still so Israel could win the battle.

Joshua did it when the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry land.

Gideon did it when God called him a "mighty warrior" even while he was cowering in fear.

They would make a pile of rocks and take time to acknowledge the moment.

It was their way of saying "God showed up, and I was here. And I don't ever want to forget it."

They would see it and remember. And others would see it and ask. And then they would get to tell.

It was their own personal "X marks the spot". I love that.

I think of all the altars I haven't taken time to build in my own life. I've forgotten countless moments where God's faithfulness ruled the day. Where His hand pulled me from the mire. Where His voice calmed and strengthened me. Where He healed me, delivered me, saved me.

God showed up. And I was there. But now I can't even remember....

When I was at re:create a couple months ago, God met me in a way that I knew I didn't want to forget. And so this post serves as my altar. X marks the spot.

Because this...? This I want to remember.

During a time of breathtaking worship, an Anglican priest led us in the Holy Eucharist. And though I'm not typically one for liturgy, the beauty and wonder of those sacred ancient words and traditions were absolutely overwhelming to me. It was so holy and so intimate.

At one point, the priest asked us to say aloud the names of those we want to pray for. And while there are many loved ones dear to my heart who are consistently in my prayers, in that split second all that came to mind was... Niel.

Niel. My still-at-the-time husband. The one who had cheated on me. Left me. Divorced me... His was the only name I could think of.

No, God. No. I can't say his name out loud. Not now.

I wrestled. I cried. And then finally, as the beautiful music continued to wash over me, I surrendered.

And as I whispered his name, the tears flowed harder than they had in a while. Words bubbled up out of me, sincere prayers for the man I'd loved... I wept as I prayed God's grace over his life.

I've forgiven, and I continue to forgive, but in that moment it was as though I felt forgiveness a little more than I ever have. I felt sorrow over my own failings and the ways I've hurt him over the years. And I felt deep grief for where his heart has gone.

I don't know what it all means. I don't know that it means anything. But I don't want to forget it.

So I'm bringing the stones.

I'm building an altar.

And I'm saying "X marks the spot."

Because God showed up.

And I was there.

And this one...? This one I'm going to remember.

Would you build an altar? Here in this sacred shared space? I would love to hear a God-moment you don't ever want to forget it.