Chapter OneSETTING STONES
The glass in the windows rattled as her daughter stormed
from the house, slamming the front door. Anne wondered
which would break first: her heart or her daughter's rebellion.
In a face-off with God. Anne stretched out on the floor
of her bedroom, facing the ceiling. After the racking sobs
subsided, she began to think back two, three years.
Her first child too wreaked havoc on their lives and himself
as he struggled to find his own way. Eventually, with a
mighty shove of the Holy Spirit, her son had squeezed
through his self-made torture chamber and into the freedom
of life in Christ.
Remembering her son, remembering God's faithfulness
in that situation. Anne began to believe that God would be
faithful with her daughter. She could hold on and trust
Him. He had proven Himself over and over.
Through her pain, Anne discovered an age-old truth about God,
and about the faith process. In the midst of distress and difficulty,
God is faithful, because tie cannot be anything less. The process of
remembering those very acts by a faithful God brought Anne into a
place of renewed hope. And faith.
How often do the circumstances of our lives threaten to cut our
hearts in half? And how often have we found that the Lord is faithful
to see us through, if we will only hold on and continue to call on
In Scripture, the Lord tells us repeatedly, "Remember." Perhaps
my favorite place in the Bible that talks about remembering is Joshua
3 and 4. After four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, and then forty
years of desert wandering, the Israelites stood at the cusp of the
Promised Land, on the edge of their future. They had been waiting
for this moment since Abraham's time. Only a teeny issue separated
them from walking into the homeland God had promised for many
years: a river.
But not just any river. This was the River Jordan, and the Israelites
stared as turbulent waters raged past them. Waters at flood
stage overflowed the banks of the river, eating away at the shoreline,
running in rivulets toward them.
Joshua halted their tear and called on the faith of the children of
Israel, fie said, "And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the
feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the
earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan
shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and
they shall stand as a heap"(3:13).
The priests stepped out, and it was so. The waters peeled back
and rose up in a pile upstream, and nearly two million people, their
livestock, and caravans crossed over the river on dry ground. Not
muddy, soggy ground, but dry ground. From floods and mud to dry
dirt and millions of footsteps walking into freedom. God does not
take halfway measures-not then, not now.
After the crossing, the Lord said to Joshua, "Take for yourselves
twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command
them, saying, 'Take for yourselves twelve stones from here,
out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet
stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the
lodging place where you lodge tonight'" (4:2-3).
The stones set in place a rock-hard
faith from rock-hard places.
Each of the chosen priests hefted a huge stone and hauled it from
the riverbed to the new camp in the new land. These stones would
serve as a marker, a signpost among the people, so that "when your
children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to
you?' Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were
cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed
over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these
stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever"
Remembering God's might and faithfulness would see Israel
through rough waters and tough crossings. Remembering becomes a
tool that sees us through present pain and difficulties and propels us
into new, faith-filled spaces, preparing us for the future.
The stones from the Israelites' journey across the Jordan River
served as a faith trigger for them, and for the generations that followed.
The stones reminded them of God's power yesterday, last
week, last year. Every time they saw the stones, they remembered
God's faithfulness, God's strength, God's mighty love and strong
hand of deliverance. The stones set in place a rock-hard faith from
rock-hard places. The memorial reminded them, over and over, that
their faithful God could and would deliver again and again.
We all have our Jordan Rivers, where the waters roil and our
faith quakes and we are barricaded from passing through into victory.
Peg and Bob's river extended to their whole family. Each time one of
their daughters called and announced a new life stirring within her,
they rejoiced and could scarcely wait to share the news with everyone
they knew. When their youngest daughter, the last of their childless
children, called to announce she was finally pregnant, they
threw caution and good sense to the wind. They rushed out even before
the blue pregnancy-test strip was dry to purchase chenille blankets,
fleecy pajamas, and cuddly toys.
But in a matter of weeks, their joy turned to caution when their
daughter called to say that she'd experienced spotting. The doctor
suggested an early ultrasound. Then a blood test. He assured them,
however, that all seemed fine. "Sometimes this just happens," the
doctor said. Eager to believe, the entire family carefully counted the
weeks for her first trimester to be completed-a time after which
they would surely be into the safety zone.
But, two weeks before arriving at this milestone, an early morning
call shattered the quiet and their hopes. Their daughter sobbed
into the phone. "Mona, I've been at the hospital all night. We lost the
A close family, the entire clan converged on the daughter's home
to mingle their tears, exchange hugs, and talk out their sorrow.
Something beautiful was gone forever. No well-meaning words by
friends, who assured them that more children would come, could
erase the pain of the loss of this child who was promised and so lovingly
During that trying time, Peg's daughter and her husband experienced
not only a barrenness of the womb, but also a barrenness of
spirit. Their hope and joy faded, and months passed before they
could begin to dream that maybe, just maybe, God would bless them
with another child. Barrenness of spirit became a daunting floodplain
in the lives of several family members.
These moments when the well of your soul is empty-these are
the times when you need to remember God's power and the times in
the past when He has sustained you.
A Flooding Fear
Early in our marriage, Tony traveled frequently, which meant I
was home with young children. Fear riddled me in the night. I worried
constantly about Tony's safety. Frequently I slept with the lights
on. Finally I decided to turn my devotional life into a study of deliverance
from my fear, using Psalm 34 steadily until I learned to trust
the Lord completely in this area. I began to arm myself with Scriptures,
memorizing and quoting repeatedly, "I sought the Lord, and
He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears The angel of
the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers
them" (Psalm 34:4, 7).
When my (Jane) children were young, I prayed Scripture over
them at bedtime to combat nighttime fears. Whether they were
awakening with bad dreams or afraid to go to sleep, I would wrap
them in my arms and recite God's words over them. As the children
got older and were more resistant to such overt touch and faith, I
simply laid my hand on them and claimed the words and the truth
silently. Sometimes while they slept, I stood by their beds and covered
them in Scripture prayers. Favorites include Philippians 2:9-11;
4:6-8; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Timothy 1:7. Even now, we both still pray
Scriptures over those we love. Sometimes we pray silently, sometimes
when gently patting or touching, always trying to communicate
peace and Christ's presence in places of anxiety or fear.
Perhaps your flood stage comes through financial duress. Possibly
it is a broken or breaking marriage, an unfaithful spouse, a prodigal
child, parenting your grandchildren. Or maybe you have never
married and still scan the horizon for the man of your dreams, and
meanwhile battle a broken heart over your singleness. Perhaps your
current crisis involves job loss, or underemployment, or discrimination,
or problems with your health, or infertility.
Fear is natural in the floodplains of our lives.
But fear is no match for God. He creates goodness out of grotesque
situations, and in the midst of our Jordan River, we remember
where the Lord has delivered us in the past. These memories are souvenir
stones of God's faithfulness. God can part the waters, God can
dry the riverbed, God can make a way for us. He has done it before.
He can do it again. These are the instances we call to mind. These
moments reinstall our faith and reboot our hope and empower us to
set foot into the water.
Remembering as an act of faith
negates the fear that holds us hostage.
Imagine, as the Hebrew people gawked and shuffled about at the
banks of the Jordan, what stories began to whisper through their
minds and then back and forth to one another. Stories of plagues, of
frogs and bloody water and locusts and the death fog; stories of
Egyptians hard on their heels as they escaped to the desert, of a cloud
by day and a fire by night; stories of another body of water, the Red
Sea, and the miraculous splitting of those waters; stories of another
crossing on dry ground. Stories of a faithful God, the one true God,
the God who had delivered them in the past. These stories called
forth faith in the followers of Yahweh, faith that allowed them to step
forward into the future promised long ago.
The Stories in the Stones
Are you facing a river too full and wild to cross? God wants to
tether us to His side during the turbulent times in our lives. He longs
to build into us qualities of endurance. In the midst of circumstances
that we might not choose, our Lord may not deliver us from the
situation. But He can certainly set us free in the midst of the problems
In our journey together through Stones of Remembrance, we will
explore various women in Scripture who were used by God to accomplish
His good purposes. Through their struggles and their faith,
we will remember the God who makes a way for us in the teeming
rivers of our lives.
This will be an archaeological dig of sorts. We will excavate the
lives of women in the Scriptures, and excavate our own lives as well.
As we unearth our stones, gently brushing off the stories from our
past that display God's faithfulness, we will be encouraged and our
faith will grow. These stones of remembrance lay a foundation on
which God longs to build us into mighty women, just as Peter says:
"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy
priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5).
The Purposes of God's Memory Stones
Challenges and issues in the past and present can hold us hostage.
Are there situations in your life that you will not let go-you bring
them up time and time again? They become an excuse to camp on the
wrong side of the river. As one pastor's wife wrote, "My childhood
has hung around much too long and now I am getting free."
Don't be like the elephants at the circus. They are trained to
stand still and be in bondage. A baby elephant is chained to a peg in
the dirt with a cuff around its ankle. The chain takes away willpower,
so by adulthood an elephant has no idea that its strength far surpasses
the strength of the feeble peg in the ground. So these mighty beasts
-whose grandparents likely once thundered through plains in a land
of freedom, far, far away-stand docilely attached to a flimsy chain.
We too have been trained by our old master, Satan, but at the
cross we were set free. Jesus tells us, "Therefore if the Son makes
you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Thanks be to God,
who wants to break those chains so that we can walk in freedom into
the Promised Land.
God's purposes in stones of remembrance become even more
apparent as our lives and stones and stories impact the lives of those
around us. It was true in Joshua's River Jordan dilemma, and it is
true for our dilemmas now. "The Lord your God dried up the waters
of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your
God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had
crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of
the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever"
The rocks of remembering call to mind the hardships of our journey
and the Lord's deliverance. To all who come near our lives, they
serve as a testimony of God's goodness and power. For Joshua and
his desert conquerors, the Lord answered this prayer immediately:
So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the
west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who
were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the
Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed
over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any
longer because of the children of Israel (Joshua 5:1).
When the Israelites summoned their courage by remembering
God's power and then surging forward, the stories of their deliverance
spread. Their enemies dissolved before them, and the Hebrew
children conquered the land the Lord had pledged to them since
We need stones of remembrance because of the challenges
awaiting us in the future. The Enemy plans to fight against us-but
"He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John
4:4). We too can conquer the land the Lord gives us. We can and will
see the mighty hand of the Lord displaying His power and purpose
to those around us as we remember and move forward. But this requires
preparation on our part: we need to expect God to show up
and be ready for the miracle.
Preparing Our Hearts
Just as bodybuilders pump iron to get ready for their next
strength event, we get ready for God to act by pumping up on Scripture.
God primed Joshua for success with these words: "This Book
of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate
in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is
written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then
you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8).
A friend who served in the army said, "We were given a black
book. It contained all the specifics and directions. We were to carry
the book with us at all times, so that if we had questions and no one
was available to answer them, we could look in the book. We slept
with the book by our side, and if we were caught without the black
book, we dropped to the floor for push-ups."
Our black book is the Bible. Carry the Word of God in your
heart and in your hand. Don't be caught without it. Like the priests
who stepped into the water, carrying the ark of the covenant in front
of them. The results will change the trajectory of your life, and
transform both you and those you intercept. Charles Spurgeon said:
Never, never neglect the word of God; that will make thy he heart rich
with precept, rich with understanding; and the, thy conversation,
when it flows from thy mouth, will be like thine heart, rich, unctuous
and savory. Make thy heart full of rich, generous love, and then the
stream that flows from thy hand will be just as rich and generous as
thine heart. Oh! go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry
unto the Holy Spirit to make thy heart rich unto salvation. So shall thy
life and conversation be a boon to thy fellows; and when they see thee,
thy face shall be as the angel of God.
Our success doesn't hinge on what the culture at-large says or
does, or how others act toward us, or even on the outcome of our circumstances.
Our ultimate success totally depends on God: God's
Son the living Word, and God's written Word in us, filling us, directing
us. And then, when we come to our River Jordan, the Word
swells up within us and we remember, and find hope, and are able to
move forward into success. Success on God's terms.