By Lilly Lewin
When we were little, most of us had a collection of things that we kept safe …we had a box of treasures that we collected along the way that reminded us of special times and places, and often just stuff we liked that we wanted to keep with us. Some of us still have these collections, we have shoeboxes, jars, or even scrapbooks with pictures and items that remind us of special people and special places and times that we don’t want to forget.
The Bible is filled with tangible reminders like these. God knew, and knows that we humans easily forget. We forget what God has done for us, so God uses tangible symbols to help us remember. Consider the Passover Feast, the annual reminder that God delivered his people from Egypt, or the tower of rocks in Joshua, built when crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The annual festivals also reminded the children of Israel of the provision of God.
And all the sacrifices and offerings in the temple were tangible reminders…smelly, dirty, and physical reminders of what God was up to, and helped the children of Israel engage their God.
Like the children of Israel, we also need tangible, touchable ways to engage God. We all need symbols to help us remember and to remind us of what God has done, and what God is doing in our lives. We really need a tool box to carry with us on our journey so we have the tools we need to engage God and remember God’s goodness.
So why not start a collection? Why not start your own Spiritual Tool Box?
Find a box, make one, or buy one. One that brings you joy just to look at it or even a real tool box!
The ideal box would be large enough to hold a Bible and a Journal along with other symbols photos, objects that can help you connect with Jesus.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin. These questions and activities can help you begin a life long every day engagement with Jesus. Providing tools for the journey.
What things help you connect with God?
What books, images, photos, symbols remind you of God and what God has done in your life so far?
Maybe you come up blank…maybe you’ve never thought of this at all.
So first, think of a time and place where you’ve felt close to God…
Picture that place or that setting…maybe it’s outside in nature, maybe it was while you were hiking, running, at camp or on vacation. Maybe it was spending time at the lake, beach or mountains, may be it was while you were looking at the stars or creating something, or playing music.
Find an object or objects, or photographs that remind you of this place or these times.Place these objects and/or photographs in your box.
As an additional experience, you might create a collage of pictures that
speak to you of places and experiences where you have felt God’s presence. Or a collage or drawing with words and pictures that remind you of God’s goodness and mercy.
What else could you keep in your box?
Art supplies, a sketch pad
Photos to remind you to pray for friends or family members.
A map of the world or a small globe. I found a ball at the dollar store that had a map of the world on it to help me pray for global issues.
Something local to help you pray for your neighborhood or town.
Lyrics to a favorite song or two.
The Children of Israel had a series of psalms they sang as they made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year. Is there a song that when you hear it reminds you of God…or helps you connect with God ? It doesn’t have to be a “Christian” song. What songs really speak to you? Write down or print out the words to the song…keep that in your tool box
When I did this practice with my youth group students, I gave out actual Tool boxes to keep their bibles, journals and the symbols and treasures in. The idea was they would keep the box handy and have it for their devotion times, encouraging them to spend more time with God. So this is a great practice to do for yourself and with your own kids, or students in your church community. All ages can start this practice! And the symbols and items in your spiritual tool box and can change and grow as your age and relationship with Jesus changes and grows! Be creative and use your imagination!
What would you like to put in your Spiritual Tool Box?
What things would bring you joy? What things would encourage you to be with Jesus and to engage God? What things would help you spend time falling more in love with Jesus? Consider the Practice of the Spiritual Tool Box!