I’m a bit of a nerd. It’s no secret. My nerd-doms include Sci-Fi TV shows, superhero movies, and fantasy video games. I definitely watch more Youtube than I do TV. But probably the biggest thing I’m into is the video game Minecraft. During my downtime, If I’m not playing Minecraft, chances are I’m watching someone play it on Youtube. Sometimes, I’m doing both at the same time. If you haven’t seen it, Minecraft is a game in which the computer generates a random world full of trees, rocks, and animals for you to explore and use the elements of to build pretty much anything you feel like. There are
hundreds of things you can make, from the humble wooden pick axe to the useful enchanting table. And each thing needs to be made using a specific set of items in a specific order. The image to the left shows the crafting recipe for a simple item: the furnace. Everyone who plays Minecraft quickly learns these simple shapes and the basic elements that go into them. If that isn’t enough for you, you can add mods to your Minecraft game, adding hundreds and even thousands more items with their corresponding crafting recipes. Here’s the recipe for a relatively simple machine called a pump. The red stuff at the top (redstone dust) and the iron ingots on the sides are basic elements included in the normal Minecraft game, but the red tank, gold pipe and iron gears that make the rest of the item all have to crafted with their own recipes. I could tell you how to make them off the top of my head, but I won’t bore you with that.
If I can remember all of these crazy video game things, why do I have a hard time remembering really basic things like “God loves me” and “Put others first?” My brain is such a sponge for relatively useless things that it fills up and has no more room for the big, important things. In my devotion time recently, I was reading about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River as they finally entered the Promised Land. The river was full to overflowing with seasonal runoff and seemed impossible to cross, but God had a plan. He commanded the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to wade out into the water, and when they did, God held back the whole river. The water hit an invisible wall and would go no further. As long as the priests with the Ark stood in the riverbed, the Israelites were able to walk across to the other side on dry land. You would think something like that would be completely unforgettable, but in Joshua chapter 4, God commands Joshua to “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.” (Joshua 4:2-3). Why would God have them pick up 12 probably ordinary looking stones and carry them from one place to another? “So that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore, these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
It seems silly that such a direct and miraculous work of God would need a physical reminder to cause parents to tell their children about it. Clearly, God knows how the human brain works. He knows that we clutter our memories with names of fictional characters, lists of likes and dislikes, words and melodies of songs, and silly digital building instructions. Just like the Israelites, I need reminders of how great my God is. There are many of them around. I just have to look at them with the eyes of a child and ask, “What does this tell me about God?”