After the Israelites crossed the river, Joshua paused and did something important. He sent people back into the river bed to extract rocks that would be used to create a memorial on the western bank of the Jordan to commemorate the crossing. Not only did the people need their own miracles, they needed their own stories. Joshua 4:19-24 give the rationale behind the memorial stones.
“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.” (NLT)
Joshua gave three reasons why this memorial was important. First, the memorial would become a talking point for future generations. When children would see the memorial and ask what it meant, the elders would be reminded to pass down the story of the miracle that occurred. Values in an organization are shaped by the stories that are told. So if you want to change the values in your organization, church, or family, all you have to do is change the stories you tell. What stories are you telling? Are you telling the stories of people from history? Or are you telling fresh stories of God’s faithfulness from your personal experience?
The second reason for the memorial was to serve as a testimony to the people of the earth. This reason reminds me that the faithful activity of God is not solely about “the insiders.” The faithfulness of God is also about the mission of the church. We exist for the people who are not here. We cannot forget that the people of God are a missional people, extending the kingdom of God to those beyond our building’s borders.
The final reason the memorial was significant was that it became a reminder to worship God. We tell stories to convey values to future generations and to share the love of God with those who do not know Him. But we also must be reminded to worship God. Worship is the ultimate priority of the church. Each day that we engage in private worship and each week we come together for corporate worship reorients our lives to the King and his kingdom. As we worship we recalibrate from the hustle and strain of every day living to the God who is God and we recall that life is not solely about ourselves, for we have been created for something bigger.
What memorials have you constructed to remind you of God’s activity in your life? What are the stories that you are telling to your children and grandchildren? What opportunities do you have to tell friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the faithfulness of God? How conscious are you to remember to give God the worship He deserves?
Tomorrow I’ll finish this week’s series and post about the value of creating lasting legacies.