When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”… 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day….On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4: 1-7, 9, 19-24 NIV
That’s what this blog is: stones of remembrance I place here to testify to God’s goodness in my life. So today I HAVE TO add this stone to the stack here that I truly pray is an altar to the faithfulness of God. About three weeks ago I “accidentally” ended up in a coffee shop about twenty minutes before my son got there to met me for breakfast. His friends had suggested the spot, so I drove downtown on a very low-cloud-covered unusual day for metro Phoenix, guided by my Google maps to take a route I wouldn’thave chosen,and the first event happened going north on the 101 (instead of west on the 202 as I would have done) : a heart-shaped hole in the clouds ahead of me. Seriously, a heart-shaped hole that morphed into an even more heart-shaped hole as I watched it above the freeway. Law-abiding driver that I am, I didn’t grab my phone to take a picture of it to show you here. Yes, God Almighty was speaking love to me!
I got to share HIS love as I waited for Emily, the barista, to pour my green iced tea, inspired by the Apple photo on the TV on the wall of Hong Kong harbor to ask her, “Would you like to hear about a miracle that happened there?” as I pointed to the skyscrapers on the TV. No one else was there, so I had time to share the miracle birth of my granddaughter and the miracle of me being able to FIND my family when I had no way to contact them, a miracle God set up nine years earlier (thank you again, Julia, and your mother, too).
Emily knew it was no accident that I was there; I knew it, too, and that became more apparent over the course of the hour or so we were there. “Coincidentally,” I “happened” to have a photo book of my granddaughter’s first weeks, in the bag of Valentine goodies I had for my younger son. The book had been my late mother’s copy, and I’ve had it for eight years. Why did I only think to give it to Ethan that morning? All I can think is that THAT was God’s timing and intention to speak HIS incredible love to Emily (and to me in the process).
Fast forward three weeks. A new song copied on my voice memos on my phone that morning, I’m at a Mental Health and the Gospel conference in Tempe. Wow! Sunday morning services should be this transparent, honest, open, shame-free and healing! YES, every one of us is born a sinner,and YES, JESUS’ sacrifice on the cross is MORE than enough to atone for it all when we run to embrace His lavish, implausible, incomprehensible, relentless love and mercy, so we can be FREE to be REAL with each other and find healing. I got a nudge to eat my box lunch in my car and then head to another East-Valley church, where I knew there was a prayer room. I thought I knew why I was going: to play and sing and fling that song as a worship “rock” in my “sling,” BUT GOD…… had another purpose.
I’d noticed a young woman come into the sanctuary earlier. Okay, she was there to pray, too; that was obvious by the spot where she knelt. I did my thing, turned to leave,and got another nudge to go over to her and gently share that I wanted to stand with her in agreement for her prayers. I walked over, briefly said I wanted to add my prayers to hers, and she smiled, so I put my hand on her arm and prayed for her, including for the healing I assumed she needed, given the walker parked beside her. Her eyes widened, and she asked, “How did you do that? I felt the Holy Spirit!” I quickly assured her that I hadn’t done a THING; who she felt was THE HOLY SPIRIT just pouring out of one very empty bucket.
Note: she wasn’t a member of that church. Ursula had come to attend a group, but the meeting she was looking for wasn’t happening that day! So…. we both “happened” to be in the same place at the same time…. Oh the depth of the wonder of the glorious mercies of God! We knelt together, shared honestly and transparently for probably twenty minutes, and LOVE met us there! I practically needed her walker to rise and walk, trembling, across the sanctuary to go to my car. THIS LOVE! THIS LIVING LOVE! THIS HOLY FIRE OF BURNING DESIRE FOR EVERY ONE OF US TO KNOW HIM!
What does this mean for you? Do you have any idea how very, very, very much God wants to lavish HIS FATHER LOVE on you and in you – just as you are right now, humanity and scars and weaknesses and mess-ups and all – because HE IS LOVE?!!! I need to remember this as much as every one of you reading this does: I AM CHERISHED BY ALMIGHTY GOD – so as I put yet another stone upon this altar to God’s amazing faithfulness in my life, will you kneel with me, search your heart for a stone you can add, or ask for one to be able to place on your own pile, and worship a FATHOMLESS LOVE who has a name – JESUS – with me?
I may feel unloved, useless, worthless and invalidated when people reject me, BUT GOD SAYS I AM DEEPLY LOVED, and that’s YOUR “…but…” to pray today!