Stones of remembrance

Rocks and gardens go well together.

Not only does my garden contain a grouping of boulders in a conspicuous spot, but much of the garden beds are bordered by stones.

The more weathered and mossy the rocks are, the more attractive they seem to become. It’s almost like they have stories to tell. My boulders remind me of the generosity of the next-door neighbors.

The green rock near my little Japanese maple tells the story of our daughter’s trip to Arizona and the perils she faced on a long hike. The rounded rock from Lake Okanagan reminds me of our grandchildren.

The amethyst geode bought in Denver in 1974 and then cut open tells the love story of two people, and their first anniversary together and the surprises that opened up since then. Hey, that stone never goes outside in the garden! A larger geode near the cherry tree has to suffice.

In the Scriptures, there are numerous instances where rocks and piles of stones did tell a story, or were there to remind people to tell important events.

When the children of Israel ended their forty years of wandering, and entered the promised land, such a story unfolded when they crossed the Jordan River. The waters stopped flowing and stood up in a heap as the priests’ feet touched the water.

A pile of stones was taken from the river and set up in the new homeland to remind the Israelites of God’s power and his care.

“Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, “What are these stones?”then you shall inform your children, saying, “Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever’” (Joshua 4:20-24, NASB).

In those days, rocks and stones served as reminders for these stories to be told. We now have the written word of God in each of our homes, and even on electronic devices.

With the ready availability of the Bible, how well do we really know about the events of God’s people, and the significance and life lessons they teach?

For instance, the crossing of the Jordan was to be repeated throughout the generations so “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Do we? Do we always remember how mighty the Lord’s hand is? Do we fear the Lord our God?

One such stone that was raised to remind the people of God was named “Ebenezer,” in 1 Samuel 7. It meant “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

That’s all really any of us can say, is “thus far.” God helps us as we follow him. After we stop following and calling on him for help, there is no expectation of his aid.

We may not raise up rocks and stones to remind ourselves. We might not put a string around a finger, or even set an alarm on a smartphone.

But we are expected to remember God and his love and power.

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