2011 was a landmark year for our family. Our son Joel was joined in marriage to Rachel Olson, a beautiful, godly woman and launched a church plant in Whittier called Whittier Hills Baptist Church Uptown, where Joel is co-pastoring. Our oldest daughter, Brenna, began college in Washington State at Moody Bible Institute and our youngest daughter felt the call of God to pursue her education at a Christian college/university; perhaps leading into a call in ministry.
Sometimes our landmark moments are happy and joyous ones such as these. Sometimes they are sad ones, such as the passing of my father and a dear cousin two years ago; or empowering ones such as when the Lord brings you through a difficult trial or test. But I find with each landmark moment, the Lord gives me new glimpses into Himself and He shows me new facets of His grace and lovingkindness. Remembering how the Lord has cared for me during these times gives me strength and courage for today and the future.
There is a precious story in the Old Testament where God used a landmark to infuse courage and purpose into one of his godly leaders who had a unique trait. He was left-handed. The book of Judges Chapter 3 tells the story of Ehud and his unique characteristic was considered an exceptional asset in those days. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and many of the tribe of Benjamin were left-handed (Jdg 20:16-see note Judges 20:16) and perhaps even ambidextrous (1Chr 12:2) making them highly specialized troops.
At this point in Israel’s history we find Israel being disobedient to the Lord so He allows King Eglon of Moab to take control of them. The Jews cry out to God for deliverance and He appoints Ehud as judge and “rescuer to save them.” (Judges 3:15). The Israelites must pay tribute money to King Eglon and so Ehud is sent to deliver the money and kill the King. Ehud makes a double-edged dagger about a foot long and hides it in his right thigh, knowing that the king’s bodyguards would be searching the left side of the king’s visitors. Everything goes according to plan but Ehud loses his nerve and leaves the palace discouraged and defeated.
On his way home, Ehud passes what Judges calls “the stone idols near Gilgal”. These stone idols were actually an historical landmark for Israel. They were the 12 stones that God had instructed Joshua to be brought out of the dry riverbed of the Jordan River after the Israelites had crossed into the Promised Land. (Joshua 4). The stones were to be a reminder of God’s covenant with Israel a sign of his lovingkindness (his covenant love) and “stand as a memorial among the people forever”. (Joshua 4:7) But the Jews had forgotten about God’s covenant with them and had forgotten about the memorial. Over time the memorial had been reduced to a pile of stones that travelers passed by with no notice. But on this day, Ehud notices them. And he remembers. He remembers God’s covenant with Israel. He remembers that the land has been promised to them. He remembers his calling and the purpose for which he was sent. He goes back and asks to see the king, telling him he has a secret message for him. The king ushers him in and Ehud does something for God that no right-handed man could do. He kills the Moabite king, graphically described in Judges 3:22-23.
God used Joshua’s landmark to remind Ehud of his purpose. God use landmarks in our lives as well. We all have those landmark moments when God rescues us or empowers us with His Spirit to fulfill a unique calling. As you look back over 2011 and look forward to a New Year, remember your landmark moments. Remember that God had called you, empowered you, and gifted you for His purpose. Don’t let your landmarks become a pile of stones but keep them as memorial and testimony to the power of God in your life.