Monday, September 16, 2013

Precious Stones

"Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded:
'Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come,
so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.'"
Exodus 16:32

The other night, we walked from our hotel to a Mexican restaurant nearby.
We had plans to go play mini-golf after dinner, but as we walked along,
we looked to the right side of the road and saw a peaceful park
situated right alongside the Chattahoochee River.

It called to us...beckoned us to enter its sanctuary.

"Why don't we stop and sit by the river instead of playing putt-putt?"
Kevin suggested.

"Yeah, that sounds nice."
Zach and I agreed.

There was a neat swing near the water where Kevin and I sat down, side-by-side,
to watch Zach play by the water.

"Can I get in and wade?" he soon asked.

Somehow, I just knew he would ask that!

The cool, refreshing water was too tempting to resist.

"Sure, Zach, go ahead."

Truly, how often does one get the opportunity to wade in the Chattahoochee?

He had a ball.

The water was clean and crisp.
You could clearly see the rocks under the surface.

Soon, it wasn't enough for him to just wade.

"Mama, can I get in.....all the way?"

"Ooh, Zach, I don't know if that's a good idea."

The evening mountain air had the slightest chill to it.

"Oh, Mama, come on!"

It didn't take much begging to convince me.

Soon he was all the way in....
clothes and all!
As he swam, Kevin skipped rocks all the way across...
from our side to the other.

It did both of us good to watch Zach having such fun.
How I praise God for moments like these!
Moments like these invoke worship from the depths of my soul.

Such delights of childhood!
Such carefree innocence!
Such wild, reckless abandon!
How do we lose that with age?
Why do we become so jaded...and guarded?
What happens to our zest for life?

"Mama, I'm picking up this rock for you and Daddy to keep.
It reminds me of your love.
It's in the shape of a heart."

Zach was out in the middle searching for stones
for his Daddy to skip across the river.

He threw our special rock to the shore, and I walked down to pick it up.

I took it back to our room, washed it thoroughly, and brought it home with us.
I will keep it forever.
It is a precious stone....more precious to me than a diamond.
Each time I look at it, I will remember our special time there....
beside the Chattahoochee.
I will think of how Zach said that rock reminds him of his Mama and Daddy's love....
and how precious those moments together were.
I will remember the serenity of the setting....
how it filled my heart to watch Zach play....
how thankful I am to still have him home with us....
how glad I am that he is still as little as he is.

The best things in life are free.
The best things in life are not all.
They are moments...and memories....
and the love that is poured into them.

Seeing Zach out there in the middle of the Chattahoochee looking for skippable stones to give his Daddy,
made me think about another special day by a riverside and some other precious stones.

Moses, God's chosen leader, had died...passed off the scene....never to return.
God had chosen to leave Joshua in charge.

Joshua was no stranger to the perils of the way.
He had studied diligently and conscientiously and learned from the wisdom of Moses.
He had been a first-hand, eye-witness to the power of Almighty God,
and He knew that there was nothing beyond the realm of His ability.

Joshua was a man of courage.
The charge left to him was insurmountable...through human eyes.
He must have felt the weight and heaviness of the responsibility.
He must have longed for Moses' presence...there beside him to tell him what to do.
The reality was, Moses was eternally resting from his labors, and there was no one else to turn to....
except the One Who put him charge in the first place.

So, he trusted.
And plowed the name of the One Who has never lost a battle.

Early in his career of leading God's chose people,
his faith in God was tested....severely.
There was a river in their path.
It needed to be crossed in order for them to make progress and go forward.
Spanning its width was humanly impossible.
Joshua and the people stayed by that river for three days.
I wonder what he was doing during that time.
I have a hunch Joshua was diligently and intently seeking the face of God.
Begging for instructions.
God was always.
Guidance came.

"And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves:
for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
Joshua 3:5

On the following day, something amazing....absolutely miraculous...
took place right before their very eyes.

"And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan,
and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water,
(for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap 
 very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: 
and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: 
and the people passed over right against Jericho.
And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground 
in the midst of Jordan, 
and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground
 until all the people were passed clean over Jordan."
(emphasis added)

Can you imagine the magnitude of this miracle?
God had performed a similar impossibility approximately 40 years earlier,
when the Israelites were being pursued by Pharaoh and his mighty army, 
and God had parted the Red Sea in order for them to cross over on dry land....
to escape their cruel pursuers.

But, even after witnessing such a nearly unbelievable demonstration of what God can do,
they doubted and were fearful, which caused them to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years.

40 years later, standing at the banks of the Jordan River, 
during the time the river was overflowing its capacity,
God repeated the miracle and again made His power to be shown in an amazing way.

This time, He gave special instructions.

"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,
Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
And command ye them, saying, 
Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, 
twelve stones, 
and ye shall carry them over with you, 
and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night."

Joshua did as God commanded and chose 12 men to perform the task.

What was the purpose of collecting the stones?
Why go through all the trouble....
of sending 12 men back out to the middle of the dried-by-the-hand-of-God riverbed
to each pick up a stone and carry it with them on their way?

Joshua explained,
"That this may be a sign among you, 
that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, 
What mean ye by these stones?
Then ye shall answer them, 
That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; 
when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: 
and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever."

I love reading this story!

God is still moving, my friend.
He is working in our daily amazing, miraculous ways.
Don't you know we need to be gathering stones?
We need to be collecting leave for our children....
for future generations.
They need to hear.
They need to be made aware...of the spiritual adventures God has seen us through,
of the times He has directly and unquestionably answered our prayers,
of the moments He has parted Red Seas and Jordan OUR lives.

The world around is becoming more and more increasingly evil.
The airwaves are charged with filth, corruption, degradation, and godlessness.
But, in the midst of it all, God is still on the throne.
He is still in control, and faith in Him is something that is far too precious to let go of and cast aside.
We need to hold tight to God's unchanging hand,
and leave behind us a legacy of Godliness for our children to follow.
They need to see a trail of stones....precious stones....picked up in the midst of our deepest trials...
in the middle of our fiery furnaces.
Stones we have saved and deemed precious to our hearts.

We, as mothers, have an awesome responsibility.
We've seen the waters front of our eyes, have we not?
Think about it.
How has God worked in your life?
What prayers has He answered...for you?
What rivers has He parted...when you saw no way out?
Remember the moments?
When satan's searing breath was so close to your neck you could feel the scorching heat,
a wide, wide river was directly in front of you,
and there was no way out and no where to turn?
Remember when you lifted your eyes Heavenward and cried out to the only One Who could help?
Remember when you dropped your eyes and looked ahead, 
and the waters had miraculously parted,
and you walked forward, by faith, on completely dry ground?

If faith in God is at such a low ebb in our generation,
what will it be like in the next?
And the next?

Our children, grand-children and on down the line
need to be able to point backwards to the miracles God performed
in our lives.
They need those precious stones of memorial to remind them...
that there is a God.
That He exists.
That He can do anything.
That they can put their full trust in Him, 
because He saw their Mama...and Daddy through.

They need to be able to call back those memories....
of seeing Mama on her knees, tears falling, turning her heart toward the hills 
to Him from Whom she drew her daily strength.

Oh, for praying mothers!
Oh, for Mamas who will fall to their knees daily,
praying a hedge, wall, and shield of protection around their husbands and little ones!
Oh, for women who will dare to walk to the middle of tribulation's river,
not fearing the threat of drowning,
trusting in her God to keep the waters parted until she gleans what she needs to glean,
and who will reach down and pick up a stone to carry with her all her days!

Aren't we learning every day...through our experiences?
Don't we come to know Jesus more intimately as we journey through this life....and cross the rivers of trial?
As we go, are we gathering stones?
Are we passing them on to our children, as a memorial?
As something they can pick up and carry on through their own lives
and impart to their own children?

"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following."
Psalm 48:12-13

Why do we need to have a clear vision?
Why is it so direly important that we have a first-hand knowledge?
Because we need to be able to "tell it to the generation following."
We need to be gathering stones...precious stones....
in our character,
in our dispositions,
in our daily example...
that will give our children something to hold on to...
as godlessness increases,
as faith in Jesus Christ diminishes,
as they need to remember something real.

Oh, the weight of our responsibility!
It is great.
It is heavy.

We now hold the our generation, my friend.
We owe it to the precious lives and hearts God has entrusted to our keeping
to stand firm for God...on dry the midst of our trials,
and to gather stones.
So, when they ask questions later, we, or someone after us, can tell them.
They can be reminded.
That Mama was a praying woman.
That when she prayed, things changed.
That in the midst of her many heartaches, she held on to an unshakable faith that never flinched.
That she dared to stand in the face of adversity and claim victory.
That she never, not even once, considered an alternate way of life.

They need to remember.
They need to see it that today's first-hand witnessing of our faithfulness
will turn into memories and memorials for them to grasp on to in the future.

There is nothing more powerful to drive home truth than for them to see truth lived out in our daily lives.

It will follow them all their days.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

Moses commanded that an omer of manna be kept for the generations to come,
so they could see the bread God had rained down from Heaven for them to eat.
Joshua commanded that stones be picked up from the midst of Jordan,
so they could see the stones and remember how God had dried it up.

May God help you and I to live Godly
so our children will have precious reminders....tomorrow.

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