Open Your Bible
Joshua 4:1-24, Joshua 5:1-9, Exodus 14:21-25, Exodus 14:30-31, Colossians 2:11-12
It only takes a quick glance around to see how much we like to set up memorials. We build rock towers to display human creativity, erect statues on behalf of war conquests, attach plaques to park benches, and place headstones at gravesites. Each time I visit a new city with a friend (or even when I take a solo road trip), I make a playlist that honors the journey. Listening to it is a memorial to the wonders we witnessed and the many melodies that moved us along the way.
We don’t want to forget the events of our lives. We want to remember what we have gained or achieved, as well as what we have lost. While not everything we’re tempted to memorialize is honorable, these tangible markers connect us to our past and our present, and possibly even cast a vision for the future. Our identity is closely tied to our memory, and that makes it worth talking about.
In Joshua 4, we find an intriguing story about how God instructs Joshua to have twelve men select twelve stones from the Jordan riverbed (Joshua 4:1–3). This happens right after He makes a dry path for the Israelites as they carry the ark of the covenant (v.7), hearkening back to Moses and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.
When I first read this account, I was a little confused by all the directional cues—the coming and going, picking up stones and balancing stones on shoulders, and then carrying these same stones back to camp. Like the little children referenced in this passage, I echoed their hypothetical questions and thought, What’s the deal with all these stones? (Joshua 4:21).
Examining the story, we discover it’s less about the stones and where they’re being taken, and more about remembering the Lord’s strength and provision. In following Joshua’s instructions, the twelve men representing the twelve tribes of Israel are participating in an act of remembrance. “This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD’s hand is strong,” says Joshua to the crowd, “so that you may always fear the LORD your God” (Joshua 4:24). Through miracles like this one, God’s faithfulness is revealed to generation after generation, and it’s important not to forget it.
I want to be known for remembering who God is. If our identity is intertwined with our memory, then we need reminders of who we belong to—every single day. We are God’s people. We are not orphans left to care for ourselves, but beloved children grafted into His family. The local church reminds me of this. Road trip playlists remind me of this. Whether it’s crossing the Red Sea, the Jordan River, or the gravel street across from my condo, I can worship the Lord knowing His hand is strong and He is a trustworthy Deliverer.