When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: “Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’” Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. Joshua 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, so 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 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.”
Words of Hope
It’s amazing how something that simple can hold so many memories, but I know that I have a lot of “stones” that mark significant events in my life. I call them mementos and one of them is actually a stone. It is a tiny chunk of marble I found when I was only 14 years old. Only an inch or so square, it most likely came from a mosaic from a villa in Pompeii. I found it on the street as we wandered through the ruins while on vacation in Italy. Being a teenager, I had no idea that I was probably pilfering an antiquity, and I put it in my pocket. I forgot about it until we arrived back home in Dallas. As I was unpacking my clothes the stone fell out of my pocket.
I still have it today, and it doesn’t represent the ruins of Pompeii so much as the event. The blessing of being able to travel with my parents to Europe and visit places I had only read about in history books. It also holds a memory of my father and mother and the gift of education and curiosity they gave me. I hold it and I am transported back to those happy times together as we explored Europe that summer of 1964.
That little stone can bring back a wealth of feelings and memories, and I suspect the same was true for the Israelites who had been delivered to a promised land by a loving God. They could have stopped and carved an elaborate monument to the event, but a simple stack of stones served God’s purpose.
I think sometimes we underestimate how simple things can be just as effective in memorializing an event as something monumental. I believe God appreciates simplicity. I see it in the teachings of Jesus. Simple and direct and yet filled with meaning.
God of elegant simplicity, may I remember your loving guidance and find meaning in even the simplest of things you place before me. May even a simple stone hold a memory of the miracle of creation and the majesty of your word.