Think of a story that has been passed down through generations of your family.
Read Joshua 1-4
Some stories recall triumph and victory. Others evoke hardship, brokenness and pain, and leave us wondering “if only, if only…” But all stories have at least one thing in common: they take us to a place in time – sometimes to a time before our own – to experience a moment, learn a lesson, or examine a decision.
God uses stories to teach us His truth.
Joshua knew all the stories. He was God’s handpicked successor to Moses. He’d stood beside his mentor to celebrate the triumphs over Pharaoh, and mourned the willful disobedience of the people. Because of his faithfulness, he was chosen to lead the new generation into the Promised Land. Just as significantly, he was instructed to tell the stories – stories he had witnessed and heard – so that the people would remember God’s mercy and grace, and His great love for them.
The Israelites must have had mixed emotions as they looked across the Jordan River. The joy of seeing God’s promise about to come true filled them with excitement, and yet their anxiety was most likely at an all-time high. Taking the land and conquering its inhabitants would not be an easy task. But if Joshua had learned anything over the years, it was to obediently follow God’s word. So while the people rested, he made final preparations.
Imagine some of the conversations as the people looked across the Jordan to the Promised Land.
When three days had passed, Joshua called everyone together. The night before he’d said that the Lord would do great wonders among them, and his instructions that morning were more specific as he reminded them of God’s wonderful promises. When the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the river – he told them – the water would part, and everyone would cross the riverbed on dry land. The people were amazed. They had heard the miraculous story of the Red Sea crossing. Now they were about to live it for themselves.
When the crossing was completed, Joshua instructed one man from each tribe to select a stone from the middle of the Jordan and construct a monument in their camp. An identical pile was created in the riverbed. When these memorials were completed, Joshua made sure there was no confusion regarding their significance.
“When your children ask, ‘what do these stones mean?’” he instructed simply, “tell them the story of what happened here, and about the power of the Lord.”
Stories continue to serve a vital function in our lives. Through them, we learn vastly more than we could ever experience alone. And yet we must constantly remind ourselves to listen closely, for – much like the Israelites – we are a forgetful people. If we ignore the stories, we will probably miss out on some essential truths that God is trying to teach us.
What great stories have you heard or experienced lately?
Who are YOU going to tell them to?