Collecting Memorial Stones
So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever. Joshua 4:7b ESV
There’s something special about standing in front of a memorial, remembering what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost. In their frames, we observe tragedy and victory. Memorials are built with the specific intent to protect us from past mistakes and to remind us of past victories. The purpose is to remember.
We see a glimpse of this in Bible times from the book of Joshua.
The book of Joshua begins with Joshua stepping into his role as the successor of Moses. God promises He will be with Joshua in the same way He was with Moses and tells Joshua to have courage. God says this several times. Funny, it’s like God knew Joshua would need to hear this command more than once.
In Joshua 3, the time has come for the Israelites to finally enter the Promised Land. The priests carrying the ark of the covenant go first and stand in the midst of the Jordan river while the people cross. And God once again holds back the water so the Israelites can walk on dry land- into their promised land.
This was a happy day!
Then God makes an interesting command. He instructs Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, to collect twelve stones “out of the midst of the Jordan from the very place the priest stood firmly” (Joshua 4:3). This collection of stones was to serve as a memorial of all that God had done for the Israelites.
That this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:6-7 ESV
God instructed Joshua to build the memorial for their children. When their children became curious about the memorial of twelve stones, they were to share with them God’s faithfulness.
Remembering What God Has Done
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12 ESV
We can all recount stories of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Each of us has stories of God’s provision, deliverance, and grace.
Just as God commanded the Israelites to memorialize God’s provision thousands of years ago, we have an invitation to memorialize God’s faithfulness in our lives today.
And remembering serves several purposes:
We Remember To Glorify God
Remembering God’s provision opens a door of praise. Remembering the miracles God has performed in our lives, reminds us that He’s faithful. As we worship God for His faithfulness, others praise Him with us.
We Remember To Fight Discouragement
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). When we’re discouraged, the truth gets cloudy. Remembering God’s tender love in the past reminds us of His tender love in the present.
We Remember To Prepare Future Generations
The next generation will never know how God has provided for us if we fail to remember. We have a responsibility to share God’s faithfulness with those coming behind us
We often forget because we don’t take the time to document God’s faithfulness.
To help, I’ve come up with a few ways you can memorialize God’s faithfulness in your life.
Creative Ways to Memorialize God’s Faithfulness
Write it down: Whether you journal three pages or just jot down a few notes of God’s provision, writing down what God has done for you is one of the easiest ways to remember.
Create A Memorial: Are you a creative person? Use that gift to remember. Write a song, paint/draw, or create a spreadsheet.
Collect A Memento: In some seasons there are physical mementos that can be collected: a card from a friend, an artifact (rock, dried flower, etc.) from a special place, or a gift from a family member. Look around, is there a memento for this season?
Start a Tradition: Traditions are a great way to remember. Like celebrating Christmas, traditions cause us to focus on a specific event. Is there a tradition you can start to memorialize God’s faithfulness?
I wonder what it must have been like to watch as those stones of remembrance were stacked one by one. Were the Israelites thinking about God’s words, “so these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever (Joshua 4:7)?” Did they understand the importance of remembering?
We know from reading the Old Testament that the Israelites often forgot about the miraculous things God did for them. And through the generations, they would consistently turn their backs on Him.
We also know God never stopped being faithful to His people: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).” His redemptive story of bringing His children home continues today.
Let’s not forget to remember.
Tell me, what is your favorite way to remember?
Verses For Further Study:
Deuteronomy 6:12 ESV: Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV: So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
I Corinthians 11:24 ESV: And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
John 14:16 ESV: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.