I just completed reading through the book of Genesis, and in doing so, I was reminded of an act by Jacob that is recorded in Genesis 35. In that passage, God had spoken directly and clearly to Jacob, blessing him, and renaming him Israel.
It was Jacob’s response to that encounter that stood out to me as I re-read this wonderful story. In similar fashion to many other times in Scripture when a significant event occurred, Jacob got up from that conversation with God and immediately constructed a memorial. Verse 14 describes it as “a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone.”
Such memorials as this one carried a very special purpose in that day. They would often be set up in prominent places where they would be seen daily by passersby. Their purpose was to invoke a memory – a memory of an event that was too important to forget.
Today, our nation pauses to remember something far too important to forget. We awoke this morning in a sense of freedom that we can so easily take for granted. We live in a country that, with all its blemishes and imperfections, is still the most free nation in the world. But that freedom that we enjoy was not free. It was bought and paid for with the sacrifices of many who put themselves in harms way, fighting off aggressors that would have robbed us of the ability to live in such a sense of freedom. Often, those who fought for us gave the ultimate sacrifice – their very lives were lost – fighting for unnamed faces, and for generations yet to come.
The Bible says in John 15:13 that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV). That being the case, it is incumbent upon us to respond in like fashion as Jacob. May each and every one of us take the time today to remember…to think upon that which is far too important to forget. May we pause in gratefulness, in thankfulness, for the countless lives that were invested into our personal freedom, the very liberty that we enjoy today.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Gainesville, Mike is heard on WTMN – 96.3 FM / 1430 AM. In Ocala, on WRZN – 103.5 FM / 720 AM. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.