When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.
In my orientation for Wycliffe back in 2012, one of the morning speakers gave a talk about stones of remembrance that has stuck with me since.
Quick recap. The Israelites have been living in the desert for 40 years, but God is about to take them on a crazy adventure, fulfilling his promise of giving them a place to settle down–no more slavery, no more wandering. Right before they enter into the land of Canaan, God performs a miracle harkening back to the crossing of the Red Sea. The Jordan River separated them from Canaan and at that time of year would have been in flood stage. God commands priests go out into the river carrying the ark of the covenant (God’s presence). As soon as their feet hit the water, the river stopped flowing downstream and piled up in a wall, allowing all of Israel to cross on dry ground.
After the people had crossed safely to the other shore but before the priests came out of the riverbed, God commands they send twelve men to take twelve stones from the middle of the river. They set up these stones on the other side of the Jordan as a reminder of how God provided for them and how he is powerful.
The Israelites were pretty forgetful people, as are we. The speaker back at my orientation encouraged us to keep track of our own “stones of remembrance.” When we are facing difficult situations it is so helpful to remember how God has provided for us in the past. We can trust that he will continue to do so in the future.
One such “stone” was when I first moved to Quelimane. My teammate Lisa and I were extremely fortunately to be able to borrow a lot of house stuff from our colleagues who were spending time back in their home country. The biggest thing we still needed to get was bed frames. We had no car and knew very few people in our new city. Where do they even sell beds? Am I going to pay too much? How in the world are we going to get them home? It seems like a simple problem after living there for a few years, but at the time I was very overwhelmed. This was the crux of one of my biggest fears in being a missionary–that I’d be in the middle of Africa and not be able to handle the practical stuff. But God is great.
One problem at a time–where do they sell beds? I went upstairs to ask my neighbor if she knew where the furniture markets were. She grabs her keys, saying that she has been wanting to scope out prices on some furniture for her kid’s rooms and this is the perfect opportunity. So not only do we know where to go, but we have an escort who knows what a reasonable price is!
Once we found two beds, the question was how to get them back to our apartment. Our neighbor’s car is tiny and sending each piece of the bed frame separately on the back of a bike taxi doesn’t seem feasible. Just as Lisa and I were giving each other the “any ideas?” look, the ONE pastor we know who owns a car (a flatbed truck, no less) pulls over. He just happened to be driving by and saw us on the side of the road with all these bed pieces. Voila, transport!
I remain amazed at how God orchestrated that day so perfectly. I began that day doubtful and disheartened, but ended it with a renewed trust that God would always take care of me.
What are your stones of remembrance?