“Tell us how you’ve seen God’s faithfulness in your life recently.”
The others shared stories of moving, of marriage, of jobs. I stayed silent, but he asked me directly. I paused, looking away.
“I don’t know.” I fought back tears with every fiber of my being and every muscle in my face. I was white-knuckling my Bible at that point. “I mean, I know He’s faithful and I hope I’ll get to see His faithfulness in my life.”
“You hope?!” A voice of a near-stranger across the room.
“Yeah.” My face was hot. I bit my lip–hard–to keep my chin from quivering and praying no one would notice I wasn’t winning the fight with the tears in my eyes.
Don’t get me wrong. I know God is faithful. I knew God had been faithful to me. I was completely aware of and believed in His faithfulness. But I couldn’t find much current evidence for it in my life. It had been a particularly difficult month.
I built an altar at that moment.
When, a few months later, God’s faithfulness was abundantly clear in my life. When, after years of waiting and wanting and begging and petitioning, He said, “Yes, my child. Now, yes.”
The moment when what I thought was good and what He said was good were the same.
I built an altar.
In the Bible, people built altars to remember what God had done for them. I’m sure the Bible doesn’t record every altar that was built, but it records quite a few. I like to imagine the roads they traveled dotted with altars. On family vacations, the kids would run up to one after another and say, “This one, Dad! What is this one for?” The dad would answer, “This one, my son, is where God revealed Himself to our father, Jacob.” or “This is the place where God promised to make a nation from the offspring of our father Abraham.”
The altars represented sacred places. They represented moments when God and humans met. They represented answered prayers, needs met, promises made, and promises kept. They were a way to remember.
I build altars into my life for the same reason. I don’t literally go out and pile stones atop each other (I think my apartment complex probably has a rule on that), but I take note. I stop and take inventory of what is happening. I write it down. I remember the feeling of the moments. I capture them as sacred places in time and space.
I look back on those moments and say, “Here. Here is the moment when God was faithful. Even when I was not. Even when I couldn’t see it.”
“And here! This one is when I saw it. Finally!”
This one reminds me that He is with me. This one that He loves me. This one that He is in control. This one, oh, this one. God answered my prayer.
There’s a sweetness in the practice of going back through, recounting the moments for my altars. Giving thanks to the God who doesn’t need altars to remember. Because He is always faithful.