The White Stone Memorial
This is a funny post. I planned to write it back during finals last spring, but when I sat down to write it, a totally different blog post is what came out. They weren’t even related… Funny how that works. Anyway, considering the date tomorrow, I figure it’s a good time to finish it. Maybe think about this as you reflect on tomorrow?
Back during finals, I was procrastinating studying my test material by…. studying Wikipedia articles not related to anything I was doing. I argue at least they were beneficial in my general pursuit of knowledge. I jumped through many different topics that night, but I spent a lot of time reading up on all the different memorials. World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, Holocaust etc. They are incredibly sobering and they left me with a lot to think about. The next day after I finished my finals, I went for a drive down back roads and listened to music and just pondered my thoughts. It’s what I like to do. The memorials came back to me during a certain song.
“And on a white stone, a new name will be writ, to recall the grace shown and to never forget.”
It’s based on the verse in Revelation 2:17:
“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” and it echoes that of Isaiah 62:2 “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.”
Here’s the fascinating thing about the memorials, they are built on emotion, deep primeval emotions. In reality, the memorials aren’t the focus, but rather the tool for bringing out the focus, those emotions. Those raw emotions are something universal and innate and sometimes deeply painful but also having these flashes of hope or of happiness.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “…He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
I think these emotions are related to this. It’s our heart’s understanding of the fall, the desperate madness of it all. That slight bit of positivity, of hope, is the heart’s knowing there something more, a restoration that is to come in time. Now usually we don’t consciously notice any of this, we simply feel the emotions of it.
Modern memorials bring up remembrance of those dead and sacrificed. Usually the main reminder of modern memorials is of a price paid. The names are made to be more than just names. They are individuals. They lived, loved, fought, suffered and ultimately died. They are human. They are us and we are them. That’s where the pain flows from. The hope we feel though comes from it’s secondary reminder. It’s a reminder of the courage, heart, compassion and all good things that those affected by it showed in response. It’s a sign of the light that always retaliates against the dark’s encroachment. Older memorials were more focused on the glory and valor gained from the battles. We don’t emphasize that which was gained today because war is now viewed as a brutal, senseless thing. I agree, but I think the valor and glory we memorialized was part of something deeper too. That by God’s grace, for every attack of darkness, someone will rise against the darkness (by His grace and through His Spirit) until He comes to end it once and for all. That’s the hope we feel in our hearts.
When Jesus comes again and this long war is over, we’ll each be given a stone. A stone with a name that only the individual knows. It’ll be a memorial of the war, but it’ll be unlike those we see today. A reminder of the darkness of all the evil that once was and that we suffered individually and collectively. Yet that won’t be the central part of it. It’s main reminder will be that hope from before, only it won’t be hope… instead joyful celebration. Hope is gone because that which we hoped for has now come. A white stone… white like purity and restored innocence. A new name, to remind us that he knew us in a way no one else ever has, that he didn’t forget us, and that we have been made new despite the atrocities we created and with it comes a new name. He loves to give us new names with beautiful meanings, he does it throughout the scripture, and every time God gives a new name, that person is then radically transformed. This name though… this one will be even greater than those.
Earthly memorials are sad reminders of what we lost and only passingly what has and will be gained. The eternal memorials will be one of awesome gladness. It will be of the cross, the defeat of darkness and the triumph of God and the rescue and adoption of a people. It will be full of celebration, glory and valor. We will never stop remembering the horrors of sin and with it a bloody cross, Yet, we’ll truly understand and see the grace shown with that blood forever. Think about it next time you visit a memorial. You’ll be moved and maybe find yourself saying something like I did, come soon Lord.
“If you go to Gettysburg and take the time, maybe take a tour, maybe just drive around, read some of the monuments, read some of the plaques, you will come away changed.” – Jeff Shaara
“HERE WE MARK THE PRICE OF FREEDOM” – Inscription on the Freedom Wall of the National World War II Memorial (which has on it 4048 stars, 1 for every 100 Americans who died) …How true those words in viewing the cross?