The stone jar

January 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

[with thanks to Darrell S.]
Long long ago in a different century, on another continent, I went to an adult Sunday School class on Joshua 4. After the Israelites were miraculously rescued by God from 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they took a painful 40 year detour through the wilderness and finally came to the edge of the Promised Land where God did yet another miracle for them. The Jordan River was at flood stage but as soon as the priests touched the water it stopped flowing and the people went across. Then God told Joshua to take twelve stones from the middle of the river and bring them to the shore.

To illustrate the lesson, the teacher had us think about one way God had been faithful to us. Then he gave us stone-shaped pieces of construction paper and had us write on them this thing God had done for us. That orange oval has served as a bookmark in my Bible ever since, also serving as a continual reminder of God’s work in my life.

Early in our marriage, Jack and I started a prayer journal where we wrote down our requests and went back from time to time to see how God has responded to them. We always found it helpful to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, but our entries were very sporadic [I think once we went five or six years without writing in it]. It was easy to forget about the journal on some bookshelf [especially because in our house we have more than one bookshelf]. Out of sight, out of mind.

But the paper stone in my Bible gave me an idea. We would start a stone jar, putting in stones for each item we listed in the journal. This wouldn’t be tucked away on a shelf; we could leave it out in plain view where we would see it as we went about our days to remind us of God’s acts of faithfulness. I bought a set of jars, and we started filling them. **

Putting stones in the jar became our New Year’s tradition, and over the years we expanded it to include our growing family circle. Some years we’ve been able to do this together sitting around the fire, other years we share on Skype or via a round robin email. After we review last year’s praises and requests, we take turns sharing what God has done over the last year, and what we are concerned about for the coming year.

Our stone jars are pretty full now and more often than not, instead of adding new stones, we just list the items in the journal and then send an email to each family member with the entire list. This year, one of my stones was for this blog. I had been thinking about doing something like this for a while but hemmed and hawed. Then God opened up the way for me by giving me a push [thanks to Sue B.]

In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord…These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.
Joshua 4:6-7

What are your memorial stones of God’s faithfulness to you this year?

**And many years later, now living on a different continent, I broke two of the jars. Even if I had been in the states, I would have held no hope of finding replacements. So I went off shopping in North Africa to find other jars, thinking I would never find ones that looked as nice. Then lo and behold, [as an angel would say], I found an *identical* set in a French gift shop.

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