Memorials of God's Faithfulness

by Mikel Berger


I taught your elementary-aged children again last Sunday. We have followed along with the people of God as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years. But this Sunday, led by Joshua, we crossed the Jordan River into the promised land! Rejoice!


Our story ended with the twelve memorial stones.


Joshua 4:1–7

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (ESV)


I asked the kids about their favorite memorials to make the concept hit home. They suggested the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Great job, kids!


I suggested that memorials could also be smaller and more personal. I talked about a pen that I carry that I bought in South Africa on my first visit to Bethesda Outreach. The pen reminds me of that memorable trip and God’s love for the fatherless worldwide every time I use it.


I’ve had that pen for years. I also shared with them about a relatively new “memorial” I have. My daughter made a bracelet for me for father’s day. I’ve been wearing that to remember her and that God is an excellent heavenly father that I want to imitate as her earthly father.

Memorials can be as tall as the Washington Monument at 555’ or as short as a pen at 5.5”. Size doesn’t matter. What matters is that it reminds us of God and what he has done for us. 


One thing that struck me in the passage is that Joshua knows the future kids will ask about the 12 large stones piled up. 


“Hey, Dad, what’s up with the big pile of rocks?”


Twelve large stones in a pile are kind of weird. A kid probably would ask. 


Side note: Your kids ask many outstanding questions in class. A few of them are even related to the bible passage!


So while I like my pen and bracelet for personal memorials, I’m not sure they cut it as a memorial for the next generation. You’re free to disagree, but I think the lesson from Joshua is we need some weirder memorials. Kids aren’t going to ask about my pen and what it means to me so that I can explain they have a heavenly father that loves them. I need something that will make kids ask questions.


So who has done weirder stuff to make your kids and grandkids remember what God has done for you? What’s your pile of 12 stones?