By Jennifer Haeusser
Lectionary reading for 3/24/2022: Psalm 32; Joshua 4:1-13; 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5
Selected passage for reflection: Joshua 4:1-13
Joshua 4:1-13 (NIV)
4 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.
For some reason I found myself carrying a small boulder over a glass bridge. “Is this really worth it?” I thought as I made my way over the bridge and to our rental car, my husband trailing closely behind. We were in a small city in northern California, attending a church service and also meeting with an editor for the book we were in the process of writing. Deciding to go for a walk at the end of a long day; we found a beautiful local park. The trail led over a bridge, through some trees and eventually to a river. Being around nature had always been therapeutic to me but I desperately needed it now.
Ever since I could remember, I had wanted to be a mom. For the last couple decades, I watched as friend after friend got married and had children. Finally, I met my husband but getting pregnant hadn’t come easy. Then suddenly, years later, it happened; we were pregnant! But tragically, we lost the baby three months and three days into the pregnancy. This was a level of pain that I had never experienced before, not even with the death of my Father.
So here I was, by the river. I watched as the water flowed over the smooth rocks. That’s when a thought came to my mind, “what if I took a rock home with me as a memory of this place?” Immediately, one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament started playing out in my head. The one where Joshua and the Israelites were crossing the Jordan river into the land that God had promised them. They were to take stones from the river and place them as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to them. After telling my husband the idea, he immediately found the largest rock that we were capable of carrying.
Arriving back home, I took my prized rock and with a large tipped black sharpie wrote the words “Dreams Fulfilled.” This was an act to remember the good things that God had done in the past and also an act of faith that my dream of becoming a mom would be realized. Putting it by our fireplace, I began to look at the stone of remembrance and encourage myself in moments of grief to have hope. But over time the memory stone was pushed to the side of the fireplace to make room for other things and was a bit forgotten.
A couple years later, in the middle of a pandemic, my dream came true. Finding myself very pregnant in a 450 square foot apartment, I began to “nest”; getting rid of everything that wasn’t needed to make space for all of the baby supplies. Since we had a “glorified” studio, the crib would be in the living room space near the unused fireplace. Moving things around I came across the large stone. Memories of our trip, grief, and hope flooded in, but mostly thoughts of God being with me through it all.
Now, months later, I still have the large rock. There really isn’t any space for it since my eleven-month old son takes up most of our tiny San Francisco apartment with his gear, but it’s important to remember. And who knows, maybe someday he will ask, “What does this stone mean?” and I can tell him how he was our little miracle, and most important of all, of a God who is faithful.
Many of us think of Lent as a time to get rid of something. What about adding something this year? What if we used this time to remember the things we have to be thankful for and God’s faithfulness in our lives? Sometimes it’s helpful to have something tangible in front of us that we can see with our natural eyes, in order to bring about change on the inside. How about finding your own stone? Try writing on it something that you want to “add” this year, have faith for or remember. And see the way that “remembering” can bring transformation to your heart, mind and spirit during this season of Lent.
Jesus, thank you for the discipline of “remembering”. This is something you had your people practice since the beginning of time. I take my rock in my hands and remember all of the things you have done and believe you for what is yet to come. Amen
About the Author
Jennifer Haeusser has served with Youth With A Mission for over twenty years. She has done speaking and teaching throughout the world. Her love for open water swimming recently led her to swim from Alcatraz. Jen currently lives in San Francisco with her husband Markus and baby boy Caleb. https://markus-jen-news.com/ Jen.haeusser1977 at gmail.com