Place Your Stones Where Your Kids Can Get To Them

Place Your Stones Where Your Kids Can Get To Them

In continuing my journey through the Scriptures, this morning I read a passage in the book of Joshua that gripped me in a new way. In Joshua 4, the Israelites had just come under new leadership after Moses’ death. The Lord had instructed Moses to make Joshua first in command of His people. In doing so, one of Joshua’s first acts was to lead the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land (incidentally, not unlike one of Moses’ first tasks in leading the people across the Red Sea). So God completely cut off the downstream flow of the river, firming up the ground for their footing–just as solid as if it were concrete (Joshua 3:16-17).

Once they were through, Joshua instructed 12 men, one from each of the 12 tribes, to take stones (and we’re not talking skipping stones–they were more likely boulders) from the middle of the river and place them in a pile at their former campsite. This act of piling up stones, seen commonly throughout the Old Testament, is often referred to as an “ebenezer” or “stone of remembrance”–a symbolic act for the purpose of helping the people remember the faithfulness of God at certain times and points in history. But what struck me today in a fresh way was one of the more specific and primary purposes of these memorial stones.

Joshua explained, “When your children ask their fathers in the future, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.'” (Joshua 4:21-22)

Here’s what I noticed today: One of the primary purposes of the stones was to act as a teaching agent for their children. They were to be a teaching tool for parents to share with their children how God had been faithful to them at specific points in time. I think I’ve long understood the general idea of these memorial stones. After all, every time I get the opportunity to lead the hymn “Come Thou Fount” I usually take the chance to explain the context of the line in verse two that says, “Here I raise my ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.” But for some reason I overlooked this very important purpose of the stones–that they were intended to be a tangible teaching symbol for their children–as a means of declaring the greatness and faithfulness of God to their sons and daughters–as a teaching agent for their kids.

So I began to ask myself: What teaching agents do I have at my disposal to begin teaching my kids about the faithfulness of God? How good of a job am I doing in sharing with my children how God has been faithful in the past so that they can be confident of His faithfulness in an uncertain future? And how do I take this idea of the memorial stone and apply it very practically in our family life?

Tasha and I are still trying to figure out what that means for our family. At the very least, I think it means having some very tangible expressions of those reminders placed throughout our house–whether its through journal entries that we share with them of times when we witnessed the faithfulness of God. Or whether its through a photo book that we periodically show them of times when God heard and answered our prayers. Or whether its through the simple act of sharing personal family stories of God’s grace and favor.

We’re still figuring out the best ways to share with our children, and I would encourage you to do the same. But regardless of how we do it, the most important thing is simply that we share.