You may have heard about the redneck who rented a rowboat to take his city friend fishing. They were having a great day, catching more fish than either of them had ever seen in their lives.

“We really need to mark this spot,” the redneck said, “so we can come back and fish again sometime.”

His city friend said he’d take care of it, took out his pocket knife, and started carving a big X in the bottom of the boat.

“You idiot,” bellowed the redneck. “What are the chances of us getting the same rowboat next time?”

I have some favorite fishing spots that I go back to as often as I can. They’re places where I’ve been successful in the past, and that makes them important to me.

We’re all inclined to remember places that are important to us. People typically have vivid memories of the places where they experienced milestones in their lives. Perhaps it’s where they grew up, or where they proposed to their spouses, or where they got married, or where their children were born. But perhaps the most vivid memory anyone will have is of the place where they encountered Jesus.

If it was in a church, you likely remember the very pew you were sitting in or the very spot at the altar where you bowed down and humbled your heart to ask Him to forgive your sins and make you a child of God. Every other milestone in life pales in comparison to the moment when you got serious with the Lord, and the place where you met Him becomes very special to you.

In the Old Testament, we get a sense of the importance of remembering such places. God had the Israelites to built a memorial with 12 stones from the Jordan River to remind them of the place where they entered into the Promised Land. And when their children ask in time to come what the stones mean, God told the Israelites to explain to them how He had miraculously made a way from them to cross into the Promised Land.

“So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (Joshua 4:7).

You may remember the Southern Gospel song from some years ago that called Christians to go back to the old landmark. Essentially, the lyrics called on folks to remember what God had done for them and encouraged them to return to God. That’s God’s heart for us, as well, based on Scripture.

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness” (Joel 2:13).

So, when we’re feeling distance from the Lord, whether because we’re behaving in ways we shouldn’t or because we’re going through difficult circumstances and questioning where He is, it’s always good to go back to the places where you have encountered Him in the past. It’s amazing what doing that will do for you. I encourage Christians to make periodical visits back to the church where they surrendered their hearts and lives to Christ, and to just quietly remember the loving kindness they experienced there.

What you’ll find is that you didn’t need to carve and X or mark that spot in any other way, because it is indelibly etched into your memory.

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