So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
Congratulations! You’ve finished the Torah!
Now we turn our attention to a new part of the journey. Moses has died, along with almost all of his peers who left Egypt. A new generation with a new hope has set their sights on the promised land as Joshua rises from the ranks as God’s anointed leader. In this first book of Kingdoms, the reader will experience the conquest of Canaan with all its challenges neutralized by God’s faithful presence and power. Each victory increases the faith of the Israelites while melting the hearts of the inhabitants of these Canaanite city-states.
In this week’s reading I’m struck by the stone memorial built after Israel crosses the Jordan in flood-stage on dry ground. The miraculous crossing was no doubt reminiscent for the people of this generation who had been either children at the time, or being born in the wilderness, had later heard about the incredible story of the Red Sea crossing. But this time, Israel stops and takes the time to build a large stone structure – what we might call a testimony -- to remind them of God’s power, provision, and providence in their lives.
I encourage you to think about the moments in your life where God has honored His promises to you in an undeniable way. Do you remember, or have the layers of busyness and struggle slowly eroded the details? Have you built a testimony that not only reminds you of God’s faithfulness in times of future difficulties, but also testifies to others who might not have otherwise known of God’s works in your life?
Such memorials come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve come across necklaces, plaques, tattoos, songs, paintings, stories, and video testimonies – all of which follow Joshua’s pattern of reminding one that God is at work in one’s life…”an ever-present help,” and a faithful father who will never forsake us. We need to regularly see these reminders from our own experiences, and from others who know and have tasted the goodness of God.
Like Israel, take the time to build memorials – so that when your children, or your friends, or your Life Together family asks – “Why is that necklace so special to you?” or “What does that tattoo mean?” or “What a lovely song, what’s it about?” you can share how God carried you across a river of adversity, and your feet didn’t even get wet.