Joshua and the tribes of Israel pass over the Jordan in Joshua 4. God does yet another enormous miracle by parting the waters of the river in front of the them, allowing everyone to pass over safely.
But before the water returns to its natural place, Joshua asks one man from each tribe to pick up a stone from the river. “And Joshua set up at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, “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…” (4:20-23).
We often don’t think our spiritual journeys matter to anyone else but us. But I think part of the lesson from this passage comes from the reminder it gives us as to the importance of recording how God has worked in our lives so that a future generation can benefit from that knowledge. For the generations of Israelites who would follow this one, an altar of stones on the bank of the Jordan would be that memorial, that remembrance of what God had done for His people.
In a world blessed (or cursed) with the technology that is ours today, we can almost instantly record just about anything and everything. We often record stuff that doesn’t matter. The question becomes are we recording, for those who follow us, our faith stories, information that documents how God has worked in our lives?
God wanted Israel to remember. He also wanted the pagan nations around Israel to remember. “He did this,” writes Joshua, “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” (4:24).
Part of the benefit of recording our faith journeys is one paid back to us. As we remember and record we are reminded just how dependent on God we are. A friend quoted part of a message from Spurgeon, the great preacher of a past century, to me yesterday. The quote reminded us that despite the abilities and resources that we might have we all come to God with empty baskets, counting on Him to fill them. The act of recalling what He has done keeps us humble as well as providing for others a testimony to His grace and mercy.
Start your “altar of stones” today.