Crossing Over: Making Memorials by Mark D. Roberts

Posted: September 13, 2012 in The High Calling
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.

I grew up in a hymn—singing church. I may have learned more theology from hymns in my early childhood than from all of the Sunday School lessons I heard, combined. Sometimes the words were over my head, but the continued repetition of them caused them to sink in deep. One hymn was especially curious, for it contained a word I’d never come across in any lesson or textbook. Clueless and wondering, I sang, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’m come. And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.” What’s an Ebenezer, I wondered, and why would I raise it?

Later I would read of the nation of Israel’s passing through the Jordan, and of God’s instruction to set up a memorial there to remember his faithfulness. An Ebenezer. A marker for remembering. Suddenly the hymn made sense.

The Lord told Joshua to take twelve men—one from each tribe—and instruct them to take twelve stones from out of the Jordan, then set them up on dry ground after they had passed through the river. They made a memorial on their way. They established a marker that said, “God helped us here.” Those ordinary stones held an extraordinary story and helped them to remember the goodness of their God.  They were to be “to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What value do you see in creating a physical reminder or memorial of the faithfulness of God? What “ebenezers” exist in your life? What story do they tell?

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for the opportunities you create for erecting memorials of faithfulness. You are a wonder—working God, everlasting, all—wise and merciful to your children. Life with you isn’t predictable or “safe,” but it is always good. Forgive me when I breeze by your blessings and fail to remember your lovingkindness toward me. Open my eyes to the ways you work on my behalf, and help me to mark the journey with you with memorials that say, “This is what my God did for me.” You are worthy of my praise, God. If I fail to give you glory, let the very rocks cry out. Amen.

P.S. by Mark Roberts: At certain times throughout the year, I invite others to write a few Daily Reflections. This week’s reflections will be written by Leigh McLeroy. In addition to being a dear friend of mine and of The High Calling, Leigh is a writer, speaker, and a Christian with deep insight into Scripture and the Christian life. Her most recent book is Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps. I know you will be encouraged by Leigh’s reflections on Joshua 3-4. I’ll be back with you on Saturday.


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