You must not speak against God or curse a leader of your people. Do not hold back your offering from the first of your harvest and the first wine that you make. Also, you must give me your firstborn sons. You must do the same with your bulls and your sheep. Let the firstborn males stay with their mothers for seven days, and on the eighth day you must give them to me. (Exodus 22:28-30)
Where is “here”? What did it take to get you where you currently are in your life journey?
Joshua 4:1-13 explains the purpose of standing stones:
After all the people had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe. Tell them to get twelve rocks from the middle of the river, from where the priests stood. Carry the rocks and put them down where you stay tonight.”
So Joshua chose one man from each tribe. Then he called the twelve men together and said to them, “Go out into the river where the Ark of the Lord your God is. Each of you bring back one rock, one for each tribe of Israel, and carry it on your shoulder. They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this.”
So the Israelites obeyed Joshua and carried twelve rocks from the middle of the Jordan River, one rock for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, just as the Lord had commanded Joshua. They carried the rocks with them and put them down where they made their camp. Joshua also put twelve rocks in the middle of the Jordan River where the priests had stood while carrying the Ark of the Agreement. These rocks are still there today.
The priests carrying the Ark continued standing in the middle of the river until everything was done that the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people, just as Moses had told Joshua. The people hurried across the river. After they finished crossing the river, the priests carried the Ark of the Lord to the other side as the people watched. The men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh obeyed what Moses had told them. They were dressed for war, and they crossed the river ahead of the other people. About forty thousand soldiers prepared for war passed before the Lord as they marched across the river, going toward the plains of Jericho.
When we place standing stones where God has shown up in our lives, we move on from the area. If we were to camp under the stones, there wouldn’t be a need for the stones. Monuments mark an experience so that it can be remembered. There’s something significant that happened, and it’s important for you or others to remember. If you remain in the location of the memorial, you can tell people the story yourself. The memorial becomes unnecessary.
Placing memorial stones along your journey are a testimony for those who follow you. It’s not as much about you leaving a legacy as God leaving a legacy. The memorial stones also encourage you to continue your journey. When there are no markers to remember where God moved in your life, you can easily question your past experiences and God’s presence. You might be tempted to revisit experiences – either physically or emotionally – and in the process, you form a revised experience. You might even develop a rut as you trudge back and forth to the past.
On the other hand, when you intentionally place a memorial stone and declare, “God showed up here,” and continue your journey, place a stone and declare, “God was faithful here.” “God challenged me here.” “God provided for me here.” “God gave me peace here.” You can pause at any time along the journey in any situation and glance back to see a line of standing stones. They stand as a testimony to the reliability of God. You can follow that line of stones to where you stand and know God is present where you are. And he will be present as you continue the journey in faith.
How old are you?
When someone asks me how old I am, I proudly declare my age. It’s taken me a lot of effort to get to where I am, and while I don’t like every step I’ve taken, I’m glad to have walked through and survived some trials. I’m thankful to have thrived through some wonderful experiences. I’m proud to praise God for where I am and, even more so, for where I’m going.
It’s easy for us to reflect on the past and have regrets or justify our decisions. We either take on a burden of responsibility (when God wants us to release our burdens to him) or avoid responsibility and blame others (when God wants us to admit where we are with authentic disclosure and trust him through what follows). God wants us to trust him through our experiences, because he wants our faith journey to be exclusively with him. He is always walking with us, no matter how far off his path we are. He knows how to get us to where he intends for us to go. He knows his purpose, and he wants us to fully live it.
It’s okay to have baggage. You rarely take a trip without supplies, and your supplies differ based on your destination. Trust God to sift through the baggage you’re carrying around or storing. He knows what you need right now, what you need to put away and store for future use, and what you need to get rid of altogether.
Let God determine the location of your memorial stones and the steps you take along the way.
Pause where you are and glance back. What stones are standing in a memorial to God’s presence in your life?