We’ve all heard the miraculous story of how God pushed back the water of the Jordan River, and the Israelites walked across on dry land into their long-awaited Promised Land of Canaan. Only God can turn an ocean into a major highway.
But, what I want to draw your attention to is what happened after the army of Israelites got across the Jordan River.
In Joshua 4:1-4, God gave Joshua instructions to choose 12 men, one from each tribe to take a stone and carry it back out to the place where the priests were still standing in the middle of the Jordan River. They were to pile the stones up as a monument.
Verses 6-7 tells the purpose of the monument: In the future, when your children ask you, what do these stones mean, 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. (NIV)
How can this monument of stones be significant to us today?
First of all, can you think of a better way to instill faith in the lives of your children and grandchildren than telling them stories of how God miraculously answered prayers in your life? How often over the years I have listened as my own mother tells me of the ways God has moved in her life, as well as stories she tells me about my grandmother. Indeed, it has increased my faith, and something I pray I pass on to my children and grandchildren.
But, to be honest, I have been moved to a greater degree as I try to navigate in my world of trials by something Jim Cymbala said in his book, You Were Made For More. He summed up the Israelites’ predicament, after crossing the Jordan River this way: (paraphrased)
Even though The Israelites had miraculously crossed the Jordan River, life wasn’t easy for them in their new land. They faced walled cities, and of course, had war with the Philistines many times.
Oh yes, God helped them, but in between the great acts of God, the people lived in a real world, and they often got discouraged in between the powerful acts of God. There were times of no miracles, and times when their world was thrown into such chaos that they were uncertain of their future.
It was at those times, they needed a reference point. They needed to be able to look at that pile of stones by the Jordan River and say, “We are not sure right now about God’s presence, but we know for certain that God is God because this pile of stones bears witness to Him.”
What about you, my friend? What did you experience in 2016 that might have left you discouraged? Perhaps you had a loved one pass away, faced financial loss, or maybe that dream did not materialize as you had hoped. Perhaps you are at that point in your life where you’re not able to see by your present circumstance that God is beside you. Oh yes, I have been there.
I encourage you today before you try to go forward with a feeling of defeat, look back from where God has brought you, and remember the many miraculous things He has done in the past for you.
As a symbolic reminder of this, why not find a stone (or any object) to place on your desk or your bedside that can be used to remind you of God’s faithfulness in the past. Personally, I have a 18-wheeler toy truck that sits on my office desk. (That is a story for another day, but clearly a reminder of God’s faithfulness to me.)
Sometimes, we just need a reference point like the stones at the Jordan River to look back in the past of God’s faithfulness that will move us forward into the future.
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