I’ve needed reminders lately. Lots of them. No, not little, yellow sticky notes reminding me to get peanut butter. Although sometimes I need those, too. But lately I’ve been looking a bit too far down the road. You know, peering at the worries on the horizon. Wondering what storm clouds might be brewing. I hear the future rumbling, and I don’t like the sound of it. Doubts. Fears. A need–dare I say a demand–for some answers, ricochet around in my head like thunder rolling ahead of the storm.
But God, in His gentle sovereign way, has been whispering to me.
“So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar. . .” Genesis 28:18
Jacob had a dream in which God appeared and promised to make him a great nation in that land. Jacob’s response when he awoke was to take his pillow–that stone–and set it up as a reminder of God’s promise to him.
“Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ . . . These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:4-7
The Israelites had crossed the Jordan to take the land God had promised them. In God’s amazing, and always surprising way, He stopped the flow of the Jordan river, and the people crossed on dry ground. A man from each tribe was commanded to pick up a stone from the middle of the river, carry it across, and place them together as a memorial. A reminder to the generations of Israel of their great God and His power.
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.” I Samuel 7:12
Things looked bleak. The Israelites were facing a battle with the Philistines, and the Philistines were a fearsome enemy. The neighborhood bully, in a sense. But God, hearing the humbled cries of His people, routed the Philistines with thunder! Yes, thunder! What a mighty God we serve! And Samuel took a stone and placed it there as a reminder of God’s deliverance.
So as I look at some of the rivers I need to cross or the Philistines I think I may need to fight, He’s called me to look at the ‘standing stones’ of my life and remember. . .
. . . how He placed us in the thick of a city, St. Paul, Minnesota, a place I didn’t think I wanted to be. But that home brought us life-long Christian friends and directed us to a church we could call home. That small apartment caused us to depend on God and cling to one another.
. . . how He moved us to our home here north of Polk City. Definitely not where we were looking or the old farmhouse we desired. But He knew that someday there would be a church called Lakeside Fellowship, and He wanted us and this property to be part of that. And we have been so blessed.
So I remember. I look at some of the ugly ‘standing stones’ in my life. . .
Two scars on my right leg. One from a bone graft and another from a hip replacement. I’m reminded of the doctors God provided at the right time with the knowledge and skills required to bring healing. I’m reminded of the chronic pain I’ve endured and the compassion He has taught me through it. I’m reminded of His purpose in pain and His purpose in healing, and I’m thankful for both.
And as I think on these and other ‘standing stones,’ I’m reminded of His faithfulness, His goodness, His perfect planning, His wise direction, His deep compassion, and His desire that I walk through every day with Him. My eyes, not on the horizon and the storm clouds ahead, but on Him–my ultimate Standing Stone.