Monday, July 22, 2013

A Pile of Stones

1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." Shortly after being delivered from slavery in Egypt the children of Israel found themselves wandering in the barren sands of the Sinai desert.

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelite s, one from each tribe, 5 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 Israelite s, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 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."

8 So the Israelite did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelite s, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been [a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. Joshua 4:1-9

Shortly after being delivered from slavery in Egypt the children of Israel found themselves in trouble the primary cause: a short collective memory. They quickly forgot God's goodness and provision and began to murmur and complain. This lead to all sorts of trouble.

Ever find yourself complaining. Don't know about you but I can often find it really easy to forget God's kindness in my life. When the proverbial crap hits the fan and we find ourselves in the heat of life's battles it's easy to lose sight of God's goodness. We quickly forget the time's He's lavished His kindness on us, opening windows of promise, provision and protection .

Over the years, "Tell me about the goodness of God", is a request i have found my self making fairly often to my wife... I can have a very short memory. If you ever find  you have a short memory  building a pile of stones might be a great way to be reminded of God’s goodness..

One day back in the mid-eighties during a difficult season (my mother had just passed away) while reading Joshua, we had an epiphany why don't we make a pile of stones and establish a monument of remembrance like the children of Israel were told to do. We made a list of miracles, promises, answered prayer, words, tokens (more about that another time) and obvious kindness’ of God, so in times of trial and darkness or a tell me the stories moment we would have something tangible, a memorial to God's faithfulness, so to speak as a  constant reminder. Not unlike the purpose of the stones in the Jordon.

So we drew a pile of stones on a piece of full-scap and wrote on the individual stones. God promised this. He provided that. The Lord healed so and so. We have added a sheet or two over the years and still occasionally pull the tattered pages out to refresh our memories.

Eventually we made a real pile of stones in our back yard and had a gathering where we placed stones of remembrance  From time to time we place new stones if something warrants it.

We've even had friends come over and place stones to mark monumental times in their lives. Some have simply given us a stone and asked us to place it for them. Each time we see that pile in our back yard not only are we reminded of God's goodness in our lives but that of our friends as well.

Building a pile of stones of remembrance ( it could be anything that causes you to remember)) whether physical, on paper or in your heart, can be a wonderful exercise in nurturing a deeper awareness of the presence of God in your life, but like all spiritual practice it's simply a tool. "Our goal is God not joy nor bliss not even blessing. But God Himself. T'is His to get me there not mine but His."

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