Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rocks and Memories

A friend of mine from our church, Katie Bauman, penned the following reflection and I wanted to share it with you. Thought provoking material! Enjoy!

I was feeling a little annoyed. It was difficult enough packing the back of a mini van with camping gear and luggage for six people, but now I was graciously trying to accommodate two large, dirty rocks. My sister had explained that being on a tight budget, these rocks were her way of gathering inexpensive souvenirs. Inwardly, I had to admit that this was indeed a creative way to collect memories. I knew that edging her home garden were stones from various places in Canada. There were stones from British Columbia (yes, she stored them in her handbag on the flight home!) that reminded her of university years, a close friend left behind, and a period of significant spiritual growth in her life. Another rock came from an old corundum mine in Ontario, near to where our extended family had spent numerous Thanksgivings at an isolated cabin in the woods. Wonderful memories of family togetherness ... even more meaningful now that our Dad is in heaven and no longer present at our gatherings. My sister didn’t take time to explain the other stones but now she had rocks from Nova Scotia and P.E.I. stored in my van - reminders of a fun vacation shared with my four daughters and myself. These rocks would soon join her garden, too.

I wonder if my sister got this inexpensive souvenir idea from the Rock Of All Ages, for God himself was keen on using rocks as a means of keeping memories alive. When He miraculously parted the waters of the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk across to the Promised Land, He gave these instructions to Joshua, their leader: Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down where you stay tonight ... these stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. (Joshua 4: 2,3,7b)

I envision these twelve men digging their fingers into the firm, miraculously dry ground trying to get a grip around a large stone embedded in the river bottom. I’m sure there were even a few flopping fish to contend with! Then these stones were hoisted to their shoulders, as Joshua instructed, and carried to wherever they would be camping that evening. I am sure that by the time they lowered each stone to the ground, their shoulders ached from bearing the weight they had carried.

Have you noticed that each "stone of remembrance" in your life bears weight? That with every memory created, there are choices proceeding it, and each choice carries a weight of responsibility? Joshua said to the twelve Israelite men, "In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean? tell them..." The Children of Israel made the choice to obey God’s explicit instructions when crossing the Jordan, and now they could share happy memories of their entrance to the Promised Land.

What about your life and the choices you have made? Will you look back with happy memories about your marriage because you shouldered obedience to God by respecting your husband (Eph. 5:33) or loving your wife (Eph. 5:25), and being faithful until "death do us part"? When you someday stand at the grave site of a parent will you treasure the memories of a close relationship because you carried the weight of obedience by "honouring your parents"? (Eph. 6:1) Will you have fond memories of friendships earned because you bore the fruit of the Spirit in your life as God instructs you to do?

Unfortunately, Achan discovered that God also used stones as memorials of disobedience. The Israelites were revelling in the victory of Jericho when they were stopped short in their tracks with the discovery that God was angry with them. Achan, one of the soldiers, had sinned against the Lord by stealing plunder from the ruins of Jericho. This had been forbidden! Achan and all his family and livestock were destroyed and "over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day... therefore that place has been called the Valley of Anchor ever since." (Anchor means disaster) (Joshua 7:26) In the future, every time the Israelites walked by that pile of stones they would say to their children and grandchildren, "Beware! Always obey the Lord!"

Some of your memories may hold regrets, and disobedience may even have brought disastrous results to your life. Let Jesus Christ prove Himself as your Rock of Salvation. He knows all about the stones in your life. He will bless you for the stones that have been shouldered with obedience, and he will forgive you for the stones that have been carelessly thrown down in times of rebellion. Someday you will share joyful memories with your children, grandchildren, spouse or friends, as a testimony of godly choices in your life. And sometimes you will recall unpleasant memories as lessons of warning to those you love. "Be obedient to God," you will say. "He knows us better than we know ourselves and has our best interests in mind. I know. I learned the hard way."

Just as my sister has memory stones edging her garden, it is never too late to set rocks of memories around the perimeter of your life - ones that leave you with no regrets.

Katie Bauman/January 27, 2005

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