Sharing Memorial Stones: A Walk Through Joshua 4
Take a moment and read over Joshua 4
Seriously, go read Joshua 4 right now.
I want you to take a moment and write down specific parts of the story that stood out to you. It can be anything.
Here are some of the things that stood out to me when reading Joshua 4:
After crossing the Jordan river with the priests standing in the center of the river holding up the ark of the covenant, Joshua appointed 12 men to go back to the middle (where the ark was) and retrieve 12 stones that would be used as a memorial in Gilgal. These stones would signify proof of God’s miracle and also serve as a reminder for future generations.
This miracle signifies three principles about God that the Israelites needed to remember and teach to their children so that they were not forgotten.
In order for the Israelites to cross the waters and collect the 12 stones from the center of the Jordan, the water had to be separated and stay still. This was direct evidence of the power of God even though He was not seen. It was as though God himself was reaching down and holding back the waters with His invisible hands. How powerful must He be to accomplish this? In Joshua 3:17 it even explained that the ground was completely dry and firm the entire time the Israelites were passing over the Jordan.
We can also see the presence of God through the crossing of the Jordan. Not only did God show His power through parting of the waters and making the ground dry. God also calmed His people and reassured them that He was walking with them. As the priests held the Ark of the Covenant in the center of the waters, it became the central object representing God’s presence as each person safely crossed over the riverbed. Imagine being in their shoes, I often wonder if they felt as though God was speaking to them and telling them, “Do not be afraid. I am walking the trenches with you and I will not leave you. I will make sure you make it to the other side.”
As we walk through this story the protection of God is also clearly evident. God allowed the people of Israel to safely walk over the middle of river. I keep flashing back to Exodus 14 when the Red Sea was parted but God didn’t allow the Egyptians to cross over and they were swept into the raging waters. I know that I would probably feel an overwhelming sense of peace after crossing over and being back on dry land but what about the 12 men that were sent back into the middle of the river? I wonder if their hearts sank as they stepped back into the riverbed or if they had pure confidence in the mighty power of our God? What about the priests holding the Ark of the Covenant? God was faithful to protect each person as they safely crossed over the river. We see in Joshua 4:17-18 that Joshua commanded the priests to come up out of the Jordan and once the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant set foot onto dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks. Imagine the sense of protection each person must have felt watching the waters rush back into place and overflow.
Those 12 memorial stones were tangible proof of the miracle they witnessed that day but also a reminder of the power of the almighty God they experienced, the presence of a God who will never forsake us, and the protection of a mighty God that would live for generations to come. It still serves as a reminder today as we read through this story in Joshua 4.
The question that I have for you today is do you have your own memorial stones?
Can you think back to a time in your life where you saw God’s power, felt His presence, and encountered His protection?
These moments can easily be looked over or soon forgotten after the moment has passed. We need to continue to write these things down, place reminders in our lives, continually come back to them, and share them with others. Why? Because trials come, life gets hectic, and often we believe the lie that God is not for us.
When we take the time to acknowledge the goodness of God and how He has been faithful, it helps us to remain confident even in the midst of the tough situations in life. It also reminds us of God’s faithfulness in the seasons of blessings as well. It is not by our own accord that we were able to come into these blessings. When we establish visual markers in our lives, they become reminders to us and to the people around us that God has been ever present, all powerful, and my greatest source of protection in life.
I will share one of my personal memorial stones with you today because it has hit me rather hard this week and maybe it will help encourage someone else.
I often have to look back at the season of life as a first time parent. For those of you who know my family personally, you may have walked through this season of life with us but for those of you who do not know, I will give a brief version of the story. Our first born son is Gideon, who is now 8 (almost 9) and was born late like many first time babies. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery but as soon as he was born we knew there wasn’t something quite right. Gideon was born at 41 weeks and was only 5lbs 8oz. He struggled in the beginning but soon was able to go home despite the mystery of his small stature. By the time Gideon turned 2 weeks old, he was back in the hospital receiving his first of two blood transfusions. We had no idea what was going on and neither did the doctors. This was a very scary season. Not only were we new to this whole parenting thing but we also had the added complications of trying to figure out what our new life looked like in the midst of hospital stays and doctors’ visits. Thankfully Gideon started to do a little bit better but soon ran into other health problems. Ear infections, bronchitis, fevers, stunted growth were a few of the chronic conditions that our little baby started to deal with. We continued to spend time with specialists and undergo testing and specialist visits to no avail. No one had an explanation as to why Gideon was so sick. Around 6 months of age, Gideon was classified as failure to thrive because he stopped growing. It was not until just before Gideon’s first birthday that it was discovered that he had an immune deficiency. Just after his first birthday, he started intense treatment that recurred every 28 days. It was an extremely difficult season of life that had me seeking out God and begging him to help my child. After Gideon was diagnosed, we were told that his condition had no long term cure and that he would struggle with this his whole life. We were also informed that treatment would require more time as he grew older and that soon we would start discussing treatment plans that could be done at home. To say that I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. The story does not end there… after 9 months of intense IVIG treatment, Gideon’s specialist decided to try one month without treatment to see how his body would respond. To everyone’s surprise, Gideon did fine! They continued to monitor him over the next several months and our checkups had longer stints between them until we were only seeing our Immunology specialist once a year.
Now Gideon is almost 9 years old and does not struggle with immune issues and does not receive treatment for this once thought lifelong disease.
Why is this a memorial stone? Because I can look back at this season of life and I can see God’s power through healing my son. I remember feeling His presence throughout this extremely difficult season of life and I can also recount God’s protection over my son’s life. Was this easy? No! Did this change me? Yes. Was this situation used to bring me closer to God? Yes. Was God glorified in this? Absolutely.
So why is this important in my current season of life? Because I am now in the midst of ongoing health concerns over our second son Luther and no one has any answer on how we can help him. Luther is 5 years old and struggles greatly with communication and speech. He has been receiving speech therapy since he was 2 years old and his progress is slow. We have been to many specialists and undergone many test to find no answers. It is often difficult for us to understand Luther and his wants and needs but it is even more difficult for him. He has so much to say and desires to share it with others but cannot seem to formulate the words to get it out. I need to continue to look back at the faithfulness of God in my past struggle in order to know that God is faithful in the midst of this as well. I can recount my stones from the past in order to hold faith for the future. God is powerful, God is present, and God is the ultimate protector.
I may not know what Luther’s future holds, but I do know that I will place my trust in God. He has the power to heal Luther or give us the power to walk this road. I also know that God is present through this whole process. Not just the good days but the bad days as well. Lastly, I know that God has His almighty hand of protection over Luther and will continue to protect my sweet boy <3
What memorial stones do you have and how can they help you through your current season of life?
Don’t forget them. Share them. Encourage others. Pass them on to the next generation.