Take a walk with me to a time in history when the children of Israel were camped along the east side of the Jordan River. These people had been through an incredible journey. Their parents had been slaves in Egypt and had seen the mighty hand of God bring plagues to Pharaoh and his people. They’d seen him part the Red Sea and destroy their enemies. And now for the past 40 years, they had experienced God’s daily involvement as he led them, taught them, provided food and water for them, and disciplined them for their unbelief and disobedience. Their beloved leader Moses has died, and his appointed successor Joshua is ready to lead them across the Jordan to the Promised Land, the land that God had given them as their inheritance.
As I write this, I can look out my window to see patches of snow on the mountain peaks that form the horizon. The leaves of some of our trees have a golden yellow tint on the edges now. My daughters started school a few weeks ago, and this time of year, more than any other, draws me back to my own school days. And today, for some reason, memories of my High School graduation came vividly to mind.
You may remember your own graduation the way I do. I remember being absolutely thrilled to be done with high school. So many years of stuffing my brain with facts I thought were useless, and the endless cycle of school, sports, homework, chores, school, homework, sports, job…
I was told repeatedly that ahead of me lay a bright future of possibilities. I really couldn’t wait, but at the same time, I was petrified! There was definite security in my high school routine. My parents, my teachers, my long-time classmates, had all looked out for me. They were always there when I needed them. The only thing I could see clearly in my future was a bunch of big question marks.
I imagine this is a small-scale version of what the Israelites were feeling that day on the east side of the Jordan River. A bright future full of promise lay ahead, but no more would God be intervening in their daily lives in the same way he had – check out Joshua 5:12!
Yep. It was Graduation Day for the children of Israel, and God had a very important ceremony planned for their “Commencement Exercises”. I encourage you to read for yourself the Bible passage that describes this scene - Joshua 3:1 - 4:9. These verses provide details of the “graduation ceremony”. I’d particularly like to draw your attention to the verses in chapter 4, where the Israelites were instructed to remove stones from the Jordan River and bring them into the Promised Land. These “stones of remembrance” were to be a memorial of God’s faithfulness and a marker to remind future generations that they are children of a loving God (Joshua 4:6).
It was God’s idea that the Israelites take notice of his past faithfulness, and not only to take notice, but to mark it in a permanent way as an on-going reminder for themselves and for future generations.
I sincerely believe that God wants us to continue the practice of noticing and marking his faithfulness. There are many ways to do this, of course, but one that I find easy, inexpensive, and within everyone’s grasp is journaling. A daily log of what God has done in my life has been absolutely illuminating to me! I take time nearly every day, during my quiet time with God, to jot down a few thoughts, a simple prayer, or some words of thanks and praise, in my journal (which happens to be a $2 composition notebook from Wal Mart). In taking time to do this, I am acknowledging God’s involvement in my daily life. I see what he’s done in my past, and even more thrilling is the fact that I’m ready and eager to see his hand at work in the days ahead. I expect more, I see more, my faith is strengthened, and I end up just wanting God more. It has become and upward spiral of growth that I pray will never end!
I hope that my children will be blessed to see the “stones of remembrance” I have left as a marker for them. I want them to see that our God was not God of the Israelites only, but is also my God, and theirs. My stones are made of paper, but the impact of this experience has led me to build my own house firmly on Jesus, the unshakable Rock of my salvation, and to trust my future descendants to God’s faithful and loving hand.
I love time article because you touched one of my heart’s pulses. I have journaled since 1975. While I was still engaged I got a beautiful journal and nice pen for Mario thinking he would treasure it as much as I treasure my journals. He gave it back to me a couple of years into our marriage he had only written 11 pages. Paretically every class he takes in his study for the ministry requires a journal. I find that funny, everyone seems to see value in writing except my beloved. “Stones of remembrance” in paper is a beautiful idea. I feel a poem coming on using that idea.