It was a bleak time in my life. I had just been diagnosed with a long-term illness, our house had been ripped apart for reasons beyond our control, and our finances had been decimated. Back in our home, I looked at my small children and wondered what to do with them on the days I was too sick for outings. Surely I couldn’t set them in front of the TV. Nor could I read to them on those days. It was during this period of time that I purchased two sample CDs of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey.
We loved what we heard. I really, really wanted to buy full sets of Odyssey for my children. I thought they could listen to them while they played on those days I was unable to interact well. However, as I looked around my home, it became clear that Adventures in Odyssey – no matter how well produced – was a want rather than a need. After all, we still had several rooms of our house that were not even put together. Our remaining furniture was still stacked in a bedroom, covered in dust.
What’s a mom to do at a moment like that? I prayed. Dear Lord, I really would like a few Odyssey CDs for my kids. I can’t seem to get it off my mind. Please either provide them for us, or remove the desire from my heart. Either way, I praise You for who You are. Amen. End of story, right? Desire removed?
Sometimes God goes above and beyond to encourage us. Less than a week after I prayed that prayer, without mentioning my desire to anyone else, a friend was loading her entire childhood collection of Adventures in Odyssey into the front seat of my mini-van. There were so many jewel cases, it filled the floor and the seat. For me, it was an overwhelming display of God’s love for me and for my children. Talk about encouraged; I was so blessed!
As Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land for the first time (after 40 years of wandering in the desert), the Lord stopped the flow of the Jordan river so that His people could cross on dry land. Joshua instructed the leaders of each Israelite tribe to haul a large rock out of the middle of the river onto the bank to pile up a memorial. He told the people: “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6,7)
Joshua understood well the need for monuments. We humans are fickle people. We can be in awe of God’s power and love one moment, and complaining about giants in the land the next. Our children need monuments as well. We must take it upon ourselves to build tangible monuments in our homes – memorials to the glory of the Lord we serve. I’m not talking about icons or idols. We are never to worship our memorials. Rather, they remind us of a time when God was faithful, when He met a need. They remind us that God is good, all of the time.
In our home, our shelves of Adventures in Odyssey are one of our many monuments to the glory of God. My children listen to those CDs constantly. They rarely play or lie down at night without an Odyssey broadcast playing. Ask them where those CDs came from, and they’ll tell you God gave them to us. They will tell you that because when they mention an Odyssey story, I ask them where those CDs originated. I’ve told the story over and over, asked them to recite the story back to me and reminded them how much God loves them. I’m not annoying about it. I share the tale with true gratitude, and only when appropriate. However, my kids know that God gave them a gift that day.
Our Odyssey CD’s aren’t built from stone, and they didn’t come from the middle of a river. Nevertheless, they’re a monument. We have many monuments in our home, because the Lord loves us and moves in our lives – just as He loves your family. Our children have numerous visible reminders of His tangible love. When we discuss His great love and mercy as displayed on a cross one spring afternoon, they have no problem grasping the personal application of His sacrifice.
What are some of the monuments you’ve built in your home?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.