Why you need ‘stones of remembrance’
At the great river’s edge, they pause. Waters rage, waves roar and the current’s rushing fast. The vast throng stands, breathless. Pulse-drum thumping in ears, breath catching, they watch. To see. For YAHWEH has given the command, and it’s this: to do the impossible thing.
Children fidget, growing restless. They feel the fear. A mother reaches for a small, twisting hand. “Hold on to me.” This, in a firm, urgent whisper.
Just up there past the bobbing heads, the shifting crowd, the priests in solemn array stand, silent. On their shoulders? Golden poles. And atop those, the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
It’s the flood season. The river that lies before them, that seems to stay their passing, rushes past, menacing. What their ears can hear, what their eyes can see all shout with one voice the same message, “Don’t go! It’s impossible. You are fools if you do this thing.”
For two beats of a heart (or half of a lifetime, who can tell in this moment), the entire assembly is still. And then…
Then one by one by one, the sandal-clad feet of the priests step into the Jordan River. And like that, it happens. The water’s flow simply–stops. A great gasp goes up from the multitude. Off in the distance (a “great distance away”), the river’s piling up, held back by a hand all unseen. And they cross.
Today, I’m going to tell you a story. I know that it’s true for it happened to me. To us, and it came to my mind when he said it.
It was Sunday night last. In lamp’s golden light, he told it. All these months now post Race, he was searching. For 11 months, he’d traveled the world, living adventure with his backpack and tent, a man with a squad that he loved and a mission. It truly was the Race of a lifetime. The truth is, though, that races will end, and adventures cannot last forever. So, what next?
Back and forth, back and forth. Father and mother and son. What if (this)? What if (that)? Am I a failure? How do I know what God wants? Is it Cali or Atlanta? Pros and cons. Heart’s great struggle. “I don’t think I can bear the factory again!” And then, all at once, there it came, the story that I’d not thought about since forever.
It was Mr. Schrock, the very wise father of our struggling Racer, who recalled it. And together, we told him the story.
In the early years of our marriage, my husband was “trapped” in a factory job. I say “trapped,” for while some thrive and flourish in a building day after day, there are some souls who feel stifled, imprisoned. Can scarcely bear the monotony and routine.
That’s my husband. That’s our son.
Anyway, there came a point in time when he reached a crossroads. Without a family business to step into and with only a high school diploma, he knew that the only way to ensure a different life and a bright future was to do something nearly unthinkable for him at that time, that being to go to college. With a wife. And a toddler. And no money.
When he first presented it to me, I rebelled. I panicked, actually, for the thought of moving away to another state just–well, picture a pint-sized volcano erupting with fear, and that *may* have been me. And then I realized he was serious. Wry grin.
One day, driving home from my part-time job with terror in my heart, I said something to God that I seldom say, and that was this: “If this is really from You, I NEED You to give me a sign.” And I meant it with every piece of my volcanic, unsettled heart.
Before I had even gotten home, God had already moved to answer my prayer. When I walked in the door, my husband said to me, “So-and-so (from our church at the time) called. He said they will be in town tonight, and they’d like to take us out for dinner. They’re going to meet us at Wendy’s.”
How odd. How strange that they would call us. So completely out of the blue and out of character, for we’d never really had much connection. And all at once…
That night, we had dinner with the old couple we scarcely knew, him with his beard, her in a large, plain covering with strings. We told them what we were considering. I think, looking back, that I rather expected them to dis-courage us. In the culture we were in at the time, it truly was not the norm. Wasn’t ‘done.’ It was frightening, to lay the idea on the table, to let them see it, to let them judge.
I don’t believe we will ever forget what that old, Amish-looking gentleman told us that night. Successful businessman, he, and kind of heart, he opened his mouth, and he said, “Just go. Do it now. Do it while you’re young.” And like that, my heart settled, volcano quiet.
On the very day that I’d begged God for a sign, He heard me. No mistaking, and He’d given it. Sure enough, we did go, and God sustained us. Looking back, we both know that it was one of the best things we ever did.
The vast multitude of people has passed. The priests with the ark, they still stand in the middle of river’s bed. Then once more, the Lord speaks, and at His command, 12 men, one from each tribe, bend low and pick up a stone from the bottom of a river called Jordan. “To serve as a sign for your children.” Stones of remembrance.
On a recent winter’s night, in lamp’s golden light, a mother and a father pick up a stone. And tell a story. It is a stone of remembrance for all time, and it serves as a sign for their children. For God Almighty, He is faithful. Amen.