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stonesTell 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.” Joshua 4:7

My aunt died recently and I was given the honor of leading ‘Celebration of Life’ service for this dear, godly woman. As I heard the news about her passing it suddenly occurred to me that my aunt was the youngest child of my grandparents. Each of my grandparent’s three children died in their birth order. More importantly, I thought about the fact that an era had passed.

It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are, when your parents die you feel like an orphan. Whether you are 15 or 50 you wonder, “What will I do now without mom and dad?” Now, my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles from that side of the family were gone, with only memories to fall back on.

One wonders if the Israelites felt the same way as they crossed the Jordan River and entered the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stones they gathered from the Jordan River became a memorial to remind them of God’s promises.

The stones the leaders of the 12 tribes gathered that day were far more than rocks. Each of those stones was a story. Stories of being held captive, abused and feeling abandoned by God.  Stories of watching as, one by one, their parents and grandparents died in the wilderness. Stories of fear, confusion, doubt and grief.

As instructed, the leaders took those stones, those stories as it were, and made them into a monument. A monument to remind the Israelites and their children of the struggles in their past. But that pile of rocks meant one more thing that we must remember in our lives. That pile of stories spoke loudly and clearly the message that God delivers on His promises.

There will be times in our life when we are filled with grief, despair, confusion and anger. There will be times in our lives when we are under physical, emotional or spiritual attack. There will be times in our lives when we will feel completely abandoned by God. There will be times in our lives when we feel we have failed so badly that there is no hope.

That’s when each of us must look at those piles of stones and remind ourselves that God delivers on his promises. There was another ‘pile of stones’ that we look to for this reassurance. That ‘pile of stones’ so to speak is called Golgotha. It held the cross of our Lord and Savior and reminds us once again, that God delivers on his promises.

Each of us is building a memorial for those behind us. May we be building stones of remembrance to lead our children and our children’s children to the promises of God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. May they be able to say about us that in spite of our failures and in spite of our shortcomings, we showed them the path of deliverance.

The ARC and at many other camps and retreat centers offer us the opportunity to ‘come away and rest’ awhile. It’s often during these times of solitude that we are able to step back and reflect on the stories of our own lives and re-energize ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

What stones [stories] of remembrance are you building for those coming behind you?

PRAYER: Father God. I praise you for the promises you have fulfilled in my lifetime. Forgive me for forgetting to notice the many ways you deliver me daily. Forgive me for the times my lifestyle has been rebellious. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to be building stones of remembrance that will guide those who follow me to you. In Jesus name, Amen.


He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

She had nothing to offer him. Nothing that would set her apart from any of the other hundreds of people who pushed closer to see him. She was weak and tired. She’d long ago lost any hope of a normal life. Her prayers, up to this point had gone unanswered. Everything that she’d hoped to be and to have as a little girl was now nothing more than a shadow of an ugly past.

She was a social outcast. Her ‘disease’ labeled her as unclean. In her era, the fact that God had not healed her left her suspect. If she were ‘righteous’ he would not punish her so. The fact that her disease continued proved that she was a sinner, nothing more than a hopeless sinner.

She hadn’t been touched by a man in years. Her family kept their distance. She wasn’t allowed to go to the temple to worship anymore. She had nothing to offer. Nothing except a tenacious faith that said, “If I can just touch him. He doesn’t need to talk to me. He doesn’t even need to know I’m here. With all these people pressing in on him, he’ll be far too busy to even notice. Just one little touch….’

And with that she reached through the couple in front of her. It was just a moment. A moment in time that would change her for all time. Barely a brushing of his robe. A simple touch that stopped the world for an instant.

Have you ever felt like Jesus was too busy for your problems? Ever wondered why your prayers have gone unanswered? Ever bought into the things you’ve heard others say about you, or your kind? “Never amount to anything….God can’t use people like him/her…People never change, not her kind anyway.”

Take a lesson from the woman who, in her desperate faith simply reached out and touched him. She struggled with a physical condition but found spiritual healing. She gave up on religion but never gave up on Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to come to him cleaned up and ready for action. He simply asks us to come. He doesn’t look for explanations or proof of our worthiness. He simply wants to feel our touch on his robe.

Don’t ever give up. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you there is no hope; that you’ve made too many mistakes; that people like you can’t change. None of us can change who we are on our own strength. Tenacious faith in the living Son of God and reliance on his forgiveness and grace is the only thing we need to be free of the things of our past.

Reach through the crowd. Don’t be hampered by those who would discourage you. Touch his robe and let the healing begin.

PRAYER: Jesus, I’ve struggled with secret sin for so long and can’t seem to overcome it. I’ve listened to the voices of those who say I’m beyond hope. I’ve started to doubt your ability of desire to help me. I’ve given up on you. I’ve given up on me. I ask that you would feel my touch on your robe. Heal me of the things that are keeping me down. I have nothing to offer you except my belief that you and you alone, can change me. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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