Remembering is essential in encouraging ourselves in the Lord. David did it often. In Psalm 77:10-11, “And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the LORD. Surely, I will remember Your wonders of old.” Graham has said that faith is cold blooded on days—an act of our will, not of our emotions—and that’s what I see in David’s words here. (Check out Psalms 42, 63, 78 & 111 for more examples). Meditating on God’s previous faithfulness and goodness strengthens us in the Lord.
Joshua knew this truth too. In Joshua 4, he followed God’s instructions to take 12 stones as they crossed the Jordan to build a memorial on the shore of the Promised Land. God wanted future generations to ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” and their elders were to tell them the stories of God’s deliverance from Egypt and of His faithfulness in the wilderness.
But Joshua took it one step further. He made it personal. In verse 9 it says, “Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.” Why? Why did Joshua do it and why did the Holy Spirit include it in the story?
On the day that his apprenticeship ended and his destiny was validated by God in the sight of all Israel—I believe Joshua wanted to remember. What if each stone was a memory of God’s faithfulness? In the wilderness …in the days of living in the tabernacle…growing up under Moses’ mentorship… with his friend Caleb…
Lost in the the vast crowd of Israelites crossing over, was Joshua able to set up his own private “thank you” to the God who had been so constant in his life for over 40 years? I think so.
Graham has often talked about the power of thanksgiving, to still our souls and to expand our hearts to hear and see all that God is doing. Thanksgiving is how we enter into the presence of God. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise” (Ps 11:4). Not through study or effort… but through thanksgiving, which always leads to praise. How could it not?
Remembering the goodness of God has saved my life on many occasions. It has kept me in the “land of the living” (Ps. 27) when nothing else could. It has given me courage to fight and has been the Holy Spirit’s favorite way to bring comfort and make me smile.
I have a journal in which I record my thanks, usually just in a short sentence. On challenging days, I pull it out and read it out loud to God. Just the weight of the accumulated goodness of God has the power to give me a higher perspective of my circumstances. *Around my office are objects that remind me of our journey together. Each has a story of goodness that goes with it, and while many seem to be simple decorations, they are stones of remembrance that encourage me.
I’ve often imagined Joshua stopping by the Jordan in the years that followed, possibly after the not-so-great days. Off in the distance, there may have been a family gathered around the visible memorial stones that commemorated Israel’s beginnings. But I think Joshua preferred to spend his time looking at the smooth waters of the Jordan, remembering the hidden memorial of personal thanks that lay just below the surface and the faithful God who inspired it.
When it was time to go, he was encouraged and strengthened. Stones of Remembrance seem to have that effect, both then and now.
*Here are some of my personal “stones”:
The basket is from Boston, a trip of great favor that God paid for and filled with wonderful encounters. It is my reminder that what He orders, He will pay for.
The dancing shoes were worn by a friend on the most heaven-on-earth night of worship I’ve ever encountered. She wore them out and they remind me that our # 1 role in life is to be passionate worshippers of God.
The glass case holds the compass from my fathers B-24 WW2 airplane and his flight gloves. It is my stone of remembrance that my Papa is the Truth North that always leads me home.