Stones of Remembrance by Becca Drumheller
When we lose a loved one it’s tradition to leave flowers at the headstone to remember and honor them. In 1868 Decoration Day was started as a time for American people to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers, today we know it better as Memorial Day. Coins left on a grave symbolize that a veteran has come to visit their fallen comrade, in which different monetary value of the coins signifies how closely they had served together. In Jewish culture they leave stones on the graves of their family and loved ones, it’s a tradition that goes back to ancient times. Most notably is the grave of a German man named Oskar Schindler who during World War Two helped save the lives of 1,200 Jewish men and women by employing them in his factories. When Oskar died in 1974 the men and women he helped save came to his grave along with their families; so many stones were left in his honor that only his name, the inscription and a cross were left visible. My goal isn’t to help us understand cemetery etiquette today but instead to shed some light on stones (stay with me, it’s not geology!) the stone of remembrance that the Lord has given each of us in our lives.
In Joshua chapter 3 we read that the Israelites were being lead by Joshua and they had to cross the Jordan river which was at flood stage. The Levitical priests were charged to go ahead of the rest of the tribes, “yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from up stream stopped flowing.” (3:15-16) The ark stayed in the middle of the Jordan while all of Israel passed through on dry ground. After they finished crossing the Lord told Joshua to have twelve men from each tribe take a stone from the Jordan right where the priests were standing with the ark. They carried those stones with them until they reached where they were staying that evening and Joshua set them up and they served as a reminder to Israel for all generations to know what the Lord had done for them.
“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan 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 4:23-24
The new year beginning doesn’t mean that everything in the world or our nation is going to reset with the stroke of midnight. It doesn’t heal all the pain, loss, anger, and turmoil that every single person has felt through the previous year. Whatever you experienced in 2020 I want to challenge you to look back throughout your life and see what the Lord has done for you. This past year was a struggle for our nation but maybe there have been seasons in your life that felt even more difficult than this. I can look back on my own life and remember the loss of each of my grandparents; my siblings struggle in bad relationships, my parents fighting, the list can go on and I can recall that in some of those moments it felt like I was at the bottom of a pit with nowhere else to look but to God. In most of those situations I didn’t have an immediate answer from the Lord but I could choose to hold fast to His promises and He brought me through. Now I can use those ‘bottom of the pit’ seasons to remind me that He has done it once and He can do it again. I can set up stones in my life to remember what the Lord has done for me, so that when I hit a season now, I can look back and remember He’s brought me through it once and He will do it again.
It’s inevitable that we will face storms in our lives, and it’s not my goal to minimize how you feel in this moment or tell you to put on a brave face and pretend that nothing is wrong, but I am challenging you to take what you’re feeling to the Lord. Let Him guide this season of life and hold fast to those stones that serve as reminders that we serve the God of the impossible!