2019-04: Marking Milestones
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Marking Milestones

Joshua 4:1-9; 20-24

Have you noticed how many festivals and special days are noted in the Old Testament? There’s a heap! And all these special days were instituted to commemorate something — be it a time of rest and worship, a time of repentance, a week of thanksgiving and celebration, a season of reflection, a time to remember the works and ways of the Lord (past or present), or a coming together to wait upon and worship before the Lord for something in the future.

One story I reflect upon on occasion is found in Joshua chapter 4, where the Lord led the people of Israel across the impossible-to-pass-over Jordan River with Joshua at the helm. To make it even clearer how impossible it was, chapter 3 tells us that due to the time of year, the river was flooding. Impossible! But not for God!

After the crossing, God told Joshua to do something unique. He instructed one man from each tribe to: “…heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion.” So the men placed the stones where their feet had crossed. Why? Well, he goes on to say: “In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What are these stones doing here?’ tell your children this: ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ Yes, God, your God, dried up the Jordan’s waters for you until you had crossed, just as God…did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed. 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.” 

There is something special about celebrating milestones, marking occasions. Why? Well, God knows that sometimes we need a good reminder about Who He is and what He’s done that we might otherwise take for granted. He also knows that those reminders serve as a good boost to our courage when we’re about to once again step out into any deep, unknown waters He’s called us to. 

In verse 23, God reminds His people that He’d done this before. Remember the Red Sea? (Ex 14) This Jordan miracle was a similar one to that of the past — but for a newer generation. These stones were to be a testament and a reminder to the generation to come, and also to all who’d follow after. 

Memorial stones remind us that:
1. The impossible is impossible for us. But, the impossible is not impossible for God! It reminds us that the hand that’s protected us, the successes we’ve had, the victories we’ve experienced, the strength that has sustained us are only through, and because of, the hand and heart of God.

2. Our lives, as we trust and follow God, are not for us alone, but for those we’ve been called to. We are to tell and encourage others with the good news that “that the Lord’s hand is powerful” and that the God Who has been faithful to us in the past will be faithful to us in our future.

3. Stepping out in faith to follow the God of impossible builds our faith, transforms us and causes us to grow. To leave something known for something unknown is a huge step of faith. It is hard to make a step toward deep waters without knowing what will happen. But note: the waters didn’t part until they put their foot in it. (Josh 3:13) We often fear “putting our foot in it” in a wrong way — a way which may lead to failure or embarrassment. However, as we trust God, as we follow Him where He’s leading, He meets us there and makes a way. He grows and transforms us in and the through the process, building us to meet the great new plans He has on the other side of the river. 

We often need reminding that the Lord who has been faithful in our past will be faithful for our future. When feeling overwhelmed or when encountering new challenges, it is easy to be distracted by the deep and unknown waters we see, and forget how the Lord has led us through deep waters in the past. 

So, I encourage you: take a moment to reflect. What memorial stones can you see God has placed in your life? Take the time to write them out. Spend some time in thanksgiving and praise. Talk about them. Tell yourself the stories. Tell others the stories; it encourages us — and them.


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Belinda Tigell is an Australian singer-songwriter, speaker, teacher, worship leader and author. Find her regular blogs on belindatigellministries.com. 
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