|pile of stones (Photo credit: tom_focus)|
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.(Joshua 4:4-7 NIV)
I love this part of the story of Israel's wandering in the wilderness because it a message to the future generations that will give them faith in God. It is important to me to recall the things God has done in my life, and it builds my faith that he will be with me in other times of need.
I have a memorial, too. Israel had a man from each tribe with a rock to place in a memorial so that when the children asked, "What do these stones mean?" their parents were to tell them of the wanderings in the wilderness and the things God did to bring them through; these stones were to remind them that at flood stage, God held back the flow of the river so that the people could cross over.
My pile of stones are Bible verses that mark the places of pain, or testing, or loss that I claim by his grace to have triumphed in . He taught me to give thanks even in the difficult times, not because of the situation, but because of his grace to endure it. He taught me, like Abraham, that God will provide. In that place of sacrifice, I have no power to restrain him, but he has the power to restore me. He taught me that the Valley of the Shadow of Death is a place to walk through. You don't camp there.
It's not for us to worship the stones, but to use them to build faith for the next test, and to seek in God's word the next promise, the next stone for your memorial pile.