Scripture: Joshua 3:14-4:7
Key verses: (4:4-7) 4Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. 5Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”
Reflection: You may know the story of Moses leading the escaping slaves out of Egypt, and the water of the Red Sea parting to let them through. This event came after, but is not as well-known. (Moses gets all the glory!) Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, with the ark of the covenant in tow, and by God’s providence, the water parted to let them through on dry ground.
Following God’s command, Joshua asked a leader from each tribe to step back in the middle of the dry Jordan riverbed, and choose a stone. They placed them into a memorial so that they would never forget what the Lord had done for them. Seeing it, generations of children to come after will ask, “what do these stones mean?” The memorial is a way to remember, and to pass down the stories of faith that shaped the people of God.
What are the stones and stories of your faith journey? What memories and signs have you picked up along the way on your walk with God? Maybe they were uncovered during a time of great change and transition — scraped from the bottom of a dry and dangerous place. Or maybe they were collected on a mountaintop experience, carefully selected and lovingly displayed. Or maybe you picked them up and put them in your pocket without really even noticing, and they are jostling around with your keys and loose change, unnoticed.
Take time today to think about what would go in a memorial you might build. When someone asks, “what do these stones mean,” what stories of God with you would you have to tell?
Prayer: Holy God, you are always with me. When I am crossing raging rivers, or scaling high peaks, or just doing what needs to be done, you are there. Thank you for your constant presence. Help me notice and remember. Teach me to give thanks and to share the story of your great love. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].