“And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.””
Joshua 4:20-24 NIV
I have a hard time remembering. I’m not talking about memory loss, I’m talking about just remembering things that I’ve experienced and gone through that I need to remember.
Some people are really good about journaling. I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped so many time with journals, that it’s hard to not get discouraged. My blog has acted as a digital journal of sorts for me. Every now and then, I need to go back and read old posts because they help me remember.
God’s people didn’t have the luxury of the digital medium to record their thoughts and save them on a hard drive. They didn’t have the “On This Day” tool in Facebook to remind them years down the road what they experienced once upon a time.
Nope, they had to do things the old fashioned way. And when I say old fashioned, I mean REALLY old fashioned, old school way.
God had carried his people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Although they moaned and groaned, complained and whined, he still led them and kept his promise. But he knew that they would have a hard time remembering, and even more that they might forget to tell the future generations about what God had done for them.
So they set up stones. God knew that every time someone saw that big old pile of stones, they would inevitably ask the question, “What do these stones mean?” To which anyone could respond, “Well, I’m glad you asked.” Then they could tell the story of how God had rescued them and done miraculous things for them. He opened up the Red Sea. He opened up the Jordan River. He opened up the Promised Land. And the people walked right in.
Too often, it’s much too easy for me to see the giants in the land, the barriers in front of me, and the hindrances that are in my way rather than the path behind me that shows God’s provision. I’m much better at looking at my scarcity rather than looking at my abundance. I’m much better at seeing what I don’t have instead of seeing what I do have.
I think that’s why God told his people to set up the stones. It wasn’t just for the future generations who would ask the question, it was also for those who would tell the stories, those who had experienced God’s provision. Because when we tell the stories, when we remember, we are reminding ourselves of what God has done for us. We’re not just telling the stories for our kids and grandkids, we’re telling the stories for ourselves.
I think that I need to set up more stones in my life. I need more things to remind me because I get amnesia too easily. So I’ll set up stones, and I’ll tell the stories, knowing that they won’t only inspire others, but they just might provide the inspiration that I’ve been needing myself.