A Thousand Generations: Devotion To Memory

“The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23

The largest living organism on planet earth isn’t the blue whale.  After the fungal mats in Oregon that cover a thousand acres comes Pando. Pando in Latin means “I spread”.  And spread is what this organism does. It is known as one of the 40 wonders of America.  In Richfield, Utah, the quaking Aspen has cloned itself from a singular shared root system that is estimated to be 80,000 years old spread across 107 acres.  The average age of Pando’s stems or trees is 130 years, as indicated by tree rings.

There is an immeasurable will in nature to reproduce, regenerate and thrive, generation after generation.  Even when climatic conditions change, the organism adapts and finds a way through.  In this, there is an inherent faithfulness true to the character of the Creator – a devotion to innate memory as well in play as creatures like the barn swallow that weighs in meager ounces and annually migrates with great effort even to the brink of their demise thousands of miles year after year.  It is a recurring fingerprint we recognize as consistent throughout creation.  It is so fascinating and interesting to me whenever I learn about new evidence of this extreme striving playing out in creation.

The Atacama Desert is a desert plateau in South America covering a 1000-km strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains. The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places in the world, as well as the only true desert to receive less precipitation than the polar deserts.  The average annual rainfall is about .6”.  The soil has been compared to that of the planet Mars. In 2003, a team of researchers published a report in which they duplicated the tests used by the Viking1 and Viking 2 Mars Landers to detect life, and were unable to detect any signs in Atacama Desert soil in the region of Yungay where there once was a city but is now deserted. The region may be unique on Earth in this regard, and is being used by NASA to test instruments for future Mars missions. It’s reported to receive the highest solar radiation on the planet.

In spite of the geographic and climatic conditions at Yungay, a rich variety of flora has evolved elsewhere in the desert.  Over 500 species have been gathered within the borders of this desert. These species are characterized by their extraordinary ability to adapt to this extreme environment. The Grey Gull annually nests in these harsh conditions. Even though the area has become more extremely arid over the millennia, the gull continues to return here to raise their young.  It is an innate devotion to memory and an extreme faithfulness that drives their actions. The Pacific Ocean is 60 miles away.  The parents take turns sitting on the eggs and retrieving food from the ocean for each other. After the eggs hatch, a greater urgency arises protecting the young from the extreme temperatures and incessant sun.  Because there are no natural predators there the little ones at some point are on their own while their parents both fly to the ocean for food. The babies find small rocks they can stand on to increase their chances of catching a breeze.  The siblings take turns standing in each other’s shadow to find relief. Every year they will return to these extreme conditions to multiply and keep their species alive.  “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deut. 7:9  “Your faithfulness endures to all generations;  you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” Psalm119:90

If creatures like the Grey Gull survive and even thrive in harsh conditions under God’s care then we can trust that God will be faithful to keep his promises to us so that we can do the same. The tenacious will is what amazes me when I find such extreme examples of it in creation.  What would keep the gulls with their small bird brains from deciding, “It’s sure a lot nicer here at the ocean than back home in ‘death valley’ I think I will just hang out here.”  The difference is the innate drive and their devotion to memory.  That’s devotion – that’s faith! “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13   God is bound by his own laws that he has faithfully established in the beginning. “For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.” Psalm 33:4

“because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.…” Philippians 1:5-6

It doesn’t matter what wrong turns we may take, God is constantly recalculating like GPS tracking devices in our cars to bring us back to the right path and reach our destination. He never gives up.

The roots of Pando that spread is like the wildfire of the Spirit that Jesus was talking about in Luke 12:48-49: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from him who has been entrusted with much, even more will be demanded. I have come to ignite a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! “

The very nature of spreading this wildfire is what we do for each other in paying it forward, sharing God’s generosity to us with others.

One Monday night in February in 2019 at Post, as the women gathered, the leader announced that instead of class there would be a time for testimonies.  Several in attendance had just attended the Women’s Encounter weekend “Ashes to Beauty” and consequently the night was electrified.  Several took turns and stood testifying of their encounter with the living Christ.  They each had written down Scriptures that they had found that best described what they had experienced.  Their own words they felt, were insufficient.  The supernatural thread of divine intervention that flowed through each experience was similar to all the others.

All of us are prone to forget the things God has done for us. We need reminders. When Joshua led God’s people towards their new home, they had to cross the Jordan River (Joshua 3:15–16). God parted the waters, and His people walked through on dry land (v. 17). To create a memorial of this miracle, they took twelve stones from the middle of the riverbed and stacked them on the other side (4:3, 6–7). When others asked what the stones meant, God’s people would tell the story of what God had done that day.

In Susan Michael’s writing “Finding Hope in Faithfulness of God” we find many examples of God’s faithfulness in history.

“There are times in the lives of all believers when they may face doubts and discouragement. No matter what the reason for one’s disappointment, the Bible offers guidance as well as examples of others who have experienced the same. But today, we can find considerable encouragement not just in the biblical stories of the Israelites of old, but in the story of God’s faithfulness to their descendants today. The Puritans were so encouraged by the story of the ancient Israelites that they took from it direction for themselves. They yearned for freedom from their “bondage” of persecution at the hands of the corrupt state church, just as the ancient Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt. So the Puritans crossed their “Red Sea,” which was the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived on the shores of their “Promised Land,” on which they would found a nation built on religious freedom.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews, which highlights the various biblical characters who believed God and acted accordingly, has brought encouragement to believers for generations. And so we can all find strength in these stories.

The Apostle Paul urged the discouraged believers of the early church to learn from their fathers who, with faith and patience, inherited the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12). He then specifically pointed to Abraham as an example of one who patiently endured until he obtained the promise.

Paul’s message is clear that God is a faithful God. Just as he fulfilled his promises to Abraham, we can trust him to fulfill his promises to us. We receive strength and courage from the stories of those who went before us and who patiently endured in faith before they saw the promises fulfilled.

But let’s take a closer look at Abraham. While Abraham did live to see the fulfillment of God’s promise of offspring, other promises had not yet been fulfilled when he died. For one thing Abraham had lived as a foreigner on the land God had promised him. It did not become the “possession” of his descendants until some five hundred years after his death.

God had also promised Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. That fulfillment did not take place until some 1,500 years later when the atoning death of Jesus purchased salvation for every person who would receive it.

God is still fulfilling his promises to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that realization should bring great encouragement to all of us. Psalm 89 confirms that although he would punish their sin, his loving kindness would never be withheld, nor would his faithfulness ever fail. “I will not break my agreement or change what was spoken by my lips” (Psalm 89:34 NLV).

Christians should find great comfort in knowing that although God allows his children to suffer the consequences of sin, he uses that time to teach us and correct our ways, that we can have an expectant hope of return to his presence and his goodness in our lives! There is always a light at the end of the tunnels God allows in our lives. So, when in times of discouragement and doubt, remember the return of the Jewish people to the land God promised to Abraham, exactly as foretold by the Hebrew prophets thousands of years ago. We can find hope in this amazing demonstration of the faithfulness of God.”

Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and the creator of IsraelAnswers.com.

Every May Day which is May 1, revelers gather at 6AM in Oxford, England to ring in the spring morning with song and bells as the sun breaks over the horizon.  Just as we wait in the darkest times of our lives for morning to break and the crisis to pass we find in Psalm 130 these words of hope written by Lisa Samra:  “In Psalm 130 the psalmist writes of being in deep distress facing a situation that feels like the blackest of nights. In the midst of his troubles, he chooses to trust God and stay alert like a guard on duty charged with announcing daybreak. “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (v. 6).

The anticipation of God’s faithfulness breaking through the darkness gives the psalmist hope to endure even in the midst of his suffering. Based on the promises of God found throughout Scripture that hope allows him to keep waiting even though he has not yet seen the first rays of light. Be encouraged if you are in the middle of a dark night. The dawn is coming—either in this life or in heaven! In the meantime, don’t give up hope but keep watching for the deliverance of the Lord. He will be faithful.

What prayers are you waiting for God to answer? In what ways might your heavenly Father be developing your faith as you wait?”  Lisa M. Samra

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

For your reading pleasure:

Psalm 25: 1-7 — ”. . . let me not be ashamed . . .”
Psalm 34: 1-7 — ” I will bless the LORD at all times . . .”
1 John 1:5-10 — “If we confess . . . he will forgive . . .”
1 John 1: 15-17 –“Love not the world . . .”
2 Peter 1:4 — “. . . partaker of the divine nature . . .”
Galatians 5:16-17 “. . . walk in the spirit . . .”
Psalm 103 – this psalm gives the benefits of a relationship with God.

In recent years it has been discovered that Pando is dying.  Encroaching civilization with grazing cattle and other wildlife herbivores are feeding on the new shoots that come up continuously to regenerate the organism.  If we were to compare this to the complacency we allow into our lives that destroys the living Spirit that strives with us to keep faith alive over the thousand generations, we would begin to realize how important each one of us are in doing our part to remember God’s promises and be devoted to that living memory, God’s faithful promises. Our faith-filled lives are the visible altar of stones that causes others to ask the question. “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason regarding the hope that is in you, yet answer with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Pet 3:15).

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  II Peter 1:3-11



Photo by John Price on Unsplash

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