I have several collections in my home. I have a Precious Moments collection, an extensive Angel figurine collection, and a shelf display that pays tribute to my favourite book heroine, “Anne of Green Gables”. I am not a minimalist when it comes to decorating my home. Sure, some may say my “nik naks” are just clutter, and certainly there are some decor pieces I could easily sell without any remorse in a garage sale but, other choice pieces have a story behind each one of them. They are displayed to mark a time, or a significant life event where I fully experienced God’s activity around me in a profound and life-changing way. They are Spiritual Markers.
Scripture has several references to people building altars or celebrating significant feasts or festivals that have specific, spiritual significance to those people. Abraham (Genesis 12:1-8; 13:1-18); Noah, who built an altar to the Lord after the Flood (Genesis 8:20); the day God parted the Jordan River (Joshua 4:4-7); Samuel reminding God’s people that God helped them defeat their enemies. He marked that occasion with a stone as a remembrance of that event. (1 Samuel 7:1-12). In more recent history, the Church uses specific symbols and objects that remind congregants of significant stories and events from the Bible. A “fish” symbol, for example, first used by the early church that indicated when worn or displayed that they were Christ followers, or “fishers of men”. We use the Cross as a spiritual reminder of Christ’s great Sacrifice for us. Basically, a Spiritual Marker is any object, symbol, picture, or event that reminds us of God’s activity around us.
In 2001, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband bought me a “Sarah’s Angel” figurine. At the time, I’m sure his primary intent was just to cheer me up by gifting me with a small token of love. He knew I liked Angel figurines and I had been wandering around a store with him admiring the different displays just to take my mind off of my upcoming surgery. When my eyes rested on one little Angel figurine in particular, my husband quickly snatched it up. “You can look at it to know God’s angels watch over you.”
It was such a sweet gesture, I couldn’t wait to prominently display that little Angel in a place I could see it everyday. The store clerk boxed and wrapped the Angel for us could see I was enamoured by our purchase and quickly told us that the man who had commissioned these little figurines, did so in honour of his wife “Sarah”, who battled cancer. My husband and I exchanged looks of surprise at the added significance of learning that fact about our Angel. I hugged my husband, “She’s even more special to me now!”
Through my breast cancer journey, that Angel was a constant reminder that God and His Angels were watching over me. It was always a reminder of His Goodness, His Faithfulness, and encouraged me in times of great trial and distress as I went through the chemo treatments. That Angel figurine became a significant Spiritual Marker for me.
My Precious Moments collection is another example of items that mark significant events in our family. I’m not sure my kids are aware that each of those cute figurines that I dust each week, represent a significant life-event in our family: the year of our wedding, the birth of our children, each child represented by a precious figure; anniversaries, hobbies, career choices, and births of grandbabies. Every time I look at that display in my living room, I remember how God pours out His blessings on our home and on our family!
When I was diagnosed this time with uterine cancer, my husband went on a private quest to find the perfect item that would encourage me whenever I looked at it. I had awakened yesterday once again in pain. My leg was swollen, the blood clot not dissipated as I had hoped would happen overnight now that I was on blood thinners. A Google search further discouraged me when I learned that blood thinners don’t actually dissolve a clot, the body does that over time. Sometimes a clot can take months to dissolve! My morning prayer time with God was beseeching Him to alleviate my pain, but more than that, showing me in some tangible way that He cared about me and was even listening to me!
Yeah, Jeremiah’s Lamentation prayers may have paled in comparison to my own yesterday…
My husband had no way of knowing the specifics of my conversation with God that morning although I’m sure he sensed my ongoing frustrations with my current circumstances as he headed off to work. My day passed in pain-filled solitude. Walking was out of the question. I tried to distract myself by binge-watching shows on Netflix and playing mind-numbing games on my iPad. I was surprised when Charles came home with several packages. “You remembered!” I said when I saw the distinctive Bath and Body Works bag. I had asked him to pick up some foaming hand soaps from there a week ago. He had enough of a supply to last us a year! Then he shyly handed me another bag. “What’s this?” I asked.
“I’ve been looking for awhile, and found this today,” he smiled. “Hope this cheers you up!”
I was more than a little surprised and quickly teared up when I opened a box that contained a Peach-coloured Angel figurine. Peach is the colour of Uterine Cancer Awareness. Not sure if my husband even realized that since he’s colour blind, but I thought, just like the Sarah’s Angel he bought me nearly nineteen years ago, this new Angel figurine would serve as my new Spiritual Marker to mark this latest cancer journey. I hugged my husband tightly, thanking him for this wonderful gift. Then I noticed the inscription on the Angel’s gown and I gasped and burst into fresh tears.
Be Still, God is there.