I’ve always appreciated the way Mark Batterson finds rich meaning in the simple objects and moments of our days. In today’s devotion, Mark turns our eyes to the symbols of our lives that remind us of God’s faithfulness to us. What a gift that God gives many examples throughout Scripture of memorials, altars, and celebrations to help us overcome our spiritual amnesia. He must recognize our need for reminders of His faithfulness, past and present, even in difficult times. It’s a grace to welcome Mark back to the farm’s front porch today…
On May 25, 1979, Denis Waitley was desperately trying to catch a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles for a speaking engagement. There are easier airports to run through than O’Hare!
When he arrived at his gate, they had just closed the Jetway. Denis begged them to let him on that airplane. No luck!
Out of breath and out of patience, Denis made his way to the ticket counter to register a complaint and rebook his travel. While he was waiting in line, an announcement came over the airport intercom. AA Flight 191 to Los Angeles had crashed upon takeoff. All 258 passengers, as well as thirteen crew members, died in the crash. It was the deadliest aviation accident in United States history.
That near-death experience had a life-altering impact on Denis Waitley. Had he been on time, it would have been the last day of his life. Needless to say, he never registered his complaint. In fact, he never returned his ticket for Flight 191. He took his paper ticket and put it in a visible place in his office.
On difficult days, the days when Denis Waitley felt like throwing in the towel, all it took was one glance at that ticket to regain perspective.
Denis Waitley’s ticket for Flight 191 is what I would call a life symbol—a symbol from the past that gives meaning to the present and functions as a compass for the future.
What are the symbols from your past, painful and joyful, that make each day more meaningful?
My life symbols include an oxygen mask from one of my asthma-related hospitalizations; the graduate assessment that showed a low aptitude for writing; a brick from the crack house that is now Ebenezers Coffeehouse; and my grandfather’s well-worn, well-read, well-lived Bible that is almost a century old.
In one sense, those life symbols are worthless. Anybody want an old oxygen mask? I didn’t think so! But to me, they’re priceless! Why? They represent top-of-the-Empire-State-Building and bottom-of-the-Grand-Canyon moments. They taught me lessons I can’t afford to forget. They represent minutes that turned into moments that I will remember forever.
But trust me—this is more than a walk down memory lane. Life symbols are the key to getting where God wants us to go. They’re the key to becoming who God wants us to be. They’re the key to unleashing the power of twenty-four hours.
Remember David versus Goliath? After defeating Goliath, David took Goliath’s armor and parked it in his tent. (See 1 Samuel 17:54.) We read right past this detail, but it’s a big deal. And I mean that literally. Goliath’s armor weighed 125 pounds. I’m not sure David weighed much more than that. Why would he go to all the trouble of undressing Goliath and putting his armor in his tent? If Saul’s armor didn’t fit him, Goliath’s armor would have fit him even worse! If you can’t wear it, why save it?
Like Denis Waitley’s ticket to Flight 191, Goliath’s armor functioned as a life symbol. When David got discouraged, one glance at Goliath’s armor reminded him that he was nobody’s underdog. That armor fueled holy confidence for the rest of his life. I bet David marked his calendar, celebrating it as Giant Day ever after. Putting Goliath’s armor in his tent was a stroke of genius. We might want to follow suit—pun intended.
According to developmental psychologists, if an object is removed from a baby’s field of view, it’s as if that object ceases to exist. That’s why peekaboo is so much fun with young children! They have not developed the understanding of object permanence.
Simply put, out of sight, out of mind. We never really outgrow this tendency, do we? This is why we build memorials and celebrate holidays.
We have a tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.
The way we overcome spiritual amnesia is by building altars. What do we put on them? Life symbols.
Those life symbols don’t just point back to the past; they point to the future.
Our future-tense faith is a function of God’s past-tense faithfulness.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper.
Today’s devotion is from his book Win the Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help You Stress Less and Accomplish More. Win the Day guides us to live beyond playing it safe, whether that means taking more risks or embracing more rest. His book is the jump-start you need to go after your goals, one day at a time. As Mark unpacks several daily habits, you’ll see how simple it is to pursue them with focus and dedication—not someday down the road, but now. Transform your perspective of a single day and you’ll discover the potential waiting to be grasped at the beginning of each new sunrise.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]