Everyone Has a Story to Tell (Joshua 4.4-7 (NASB))

“Then you shall say to them, ‘That the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

Joshua 4.7 (NASB)

Over the last ten years, I started noticing groups of rocks balanced, precariously one upon another. These piles of odd-shaped rocks conspicuously placed on beaches, mountain trails, and even along the country roadside caused me to pause and wonder. What was the meaning? The stones seemed both out of place while simultaneously creating a sense of aesthetic balance. Were these rock piles—cairns—placed as a landmark or a memorial of a particular moment or person? It made me wonder. What happened here? Was my reaction the point? Were these stones stacked to make a statement or just an artistic expression?  

Interestingly, the history of piling stones is not new. As a matter of fact, it has ancient origins, and cairns are evident in many cultures. For example, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, God instructed the Israelites to collect rocks and pile them up as a memorial of what God did for them there on that day.[1] A marker or monument conspicuously placed to elicit the question from those who passed and for future generations. What happened here? The expected reply? Remember the One who provided. Remember his promises and what he has done in the past as evidence of his character—their God-story. The point? The stones were a perpetual reminder of how God protected and provided for his people, how he fulfilled his promise. He did so then, and He will do so now. Why? Because He is consistent.

When our children were small, every birthday was an opportunity for us to share the cairn moments of their birth. Each child’s birth has a different story— their unique God story. Retelling these stories on their birthdays, we set up mental cairns to remember and recount how God astounded us by intervening in their lives, even from the beginning. It was the start of their God story. It was our family’s way to reflect on His wondrous mercies and intervention in our lives. Despite the current events, whatever they were, he was present, whether we realized it or not. God is not far away but intimately involved in our stories.

Regardless of the circumstances, we choose the story we tell. From that perspective, we can recall times God intervened in our lives and life events – Our unique God story. Or we can view life through a darker lens. We can see when God protected us or where his mercies created a sense of wonder.[2] Or we can view those events very differently. The choice is ours. How we interpret these cairns influence our decisions and how we live our lives. Our story, what we continuously tell ourselves, drives our experiences and how we act toward ourselves and others. We do not live in isolation but are interconnected in ways we don’t always understand.

What are the cairn moments in your life? How do you mark those life events? Some people journal. Some write in the margins of their Bible. Everyone has a story to tell, and every word communicates. The stories you remember influence your choices and, more importantly, how you view the world. Record the cairn moments so you can tell your story. There is so much encouragement in remembering what God has done. Look to God’s faithfulness and see that He is good. Recognize that God still does marvelous things today across the globe. Look back, see His providential hand, and let His story fill your story. It gives hope in current and future situations.

[1] Joshua 4:4-7

[2] Ps. 34:8

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