Stones of Remembrance

by Leslie Royalty
Jan/Feb/Mar 2012

When the people of Israel passed through the Jordan River on dry ground, God instructed Joshua to have a representative from each of the 12 tribes pick up a stone from the middle of the river. Upon setting up camp in the Promised Land, they formed an altar out of these stones that was to serve as “…a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:7). Joshua explained to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them…. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God” (Joshua 4:21-24).

The Lord knew the people of Israel would need a very concrete reminder of the miracle He had performed on their behalf. It wasn’t enough just to retain the memory in their minds. God knew they would need something tangible. Something visible. Something that the people could return to as undeniable proof that God had set them free from the bondage of Egypt, sustained them through the desolation of the wilderness, and miraculously delivered them into the promised land. Not only would the current generation need to remember this mighty work of God, but as verse 24 declares, this was also to be a sign for “all peoples of the earth,” so that they might know the power of the Lord!

This theme of remembrance is repeatedly emphasized throughout Scripture, as God commands his people to recall what He has done, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of others. He knows we are so inclined to forget his powerful intervention on our behalf and to question his faithfulness, especially in times of uncertainty. He knows we need something solid to fall back on, remembering Who He is and what He has done, so that we can trust that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Just as the Lord instructed Israel to perform a specific action in declaration of what He had done, by telling our story and proclaiming to others God’s gracious intervention, we too can create spiritual stones of remembrance. We may not necessarily need to build a literal stone altar, but engaging in specific action or creating concrete symbols with personal meaning can serve as a powerful testimony. When we think testimony, the most common image that comes to mind is of someone standing in front of a group of people, whether many or few, and verbally telling their story. It’s true that this form of sharing packs a particular punch through the face to face vulnerability and expression of emotion that blesses both the speaker and the listeners. However, sharing one’s story is certainly not limited to this traditional concept. There are countless creative ways for people of all different personality types and life experiences to declare “out loud” God’s work on their behalf. For example, those with artistic abilities may feel led to create a painting, carving, sculpture, or collage as a depiction of God’s work in their life. Someone who loves to dance may use the beauty of physical expression to communicate how God reached them and brought freedom. Others who are more inclined toward using words may choose to write their story, create a poem, or keep a journal. Those whose love for music serves as a language of the soul may communicate through song. Some inclined toward the dramatic arts may testify through a creative monologue or screenplay. The list goes on! So for those who may be too intimidated by the idea of standing in front of other people and bearing the contents of your soul, or who may simply feel like that doesn’t quite fit, feel free to be “you” and express yourself in a way that comes more naturally.

The point is that there comes a time where it is no longer enough to simply keep our testimony inside. As Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story!” The benefits to creating some form of external expression are so worth the effort and far outweigh the risk. For our own sake, telling of what God has done somehow seems to solidify the healing within us, even taking it deeper. Often residual layers of shame melt away through encountering the understanding and acceptance of others. It seems the deepest healing comes from letting oneself be truly known. It is in that place of the true self, free from the walls of protection or pretense, that the love of God can completely sink in. Not only are we personally blessed, but others can receive healing too just by listening or witnessing God’s power on display! Whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, we have heard countless reports of people receiving personal healing through another person’s testimony! Finally, declaring the work of God serves as an effective spiritual move in pushing back the enemy and gaining victory! There is very real power in voicing God’s faithfulness, exalting Jesus, and standing firm in His redemption. As Revelation 12:11 proclaims, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

In recent years I’ve shared many times, whether through writing, speaking, or song, some of the significant healing God has worked in my life. Each time I have, especially when I’m more vulnerable and honest, I’m amazed by what God does with it! Not only do I receive more joy as I recall what He has done, but others have been deeply impacted and encouraged. Transparency usually begets transparency, as one person’s vulnerability gives another person permission and courage to open up too. And so the healing multiplies! So I invite you to simply ask the Lord to prepare you and provide opportunities to share your story. As we tell of His work, in whatever form, we create spiritual stones of remembrance, a memorial of what God has accomplished in us that we could not do for ourselves.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
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Leslie Royalty Leslie Royalty is in charge of Prayer Minister Care at CHM. Magazine Issue

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