Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 7, 2009

piling up stones

We approach, arrive at, and then pass significant markers in our life.  They can be a number, like turning 13, 21, 30, 50 … and beyond.  They can be stages of life, like the first day of school, becoming a teenager, graduating, getting married, becoming a parent, and then a parent with an empty nest.  And what about our spiritual lives?  There’s salvation, baptism, and … second coming?!  Do we ever take the time to stop at significant moments on our spiritual journey, stay for a bit, and memorialize?  Have you ever piled up stones?

“Piled up stones?!”, you might ask.  There are multiple examples in the Old Testament of occasions where characters or groups stopped and built a marker, or monument, to commemorate the location of an event or occasion of significance in their lives with God.  Let’s take a brief look at one significant moment where an entire nation piled up stones.

At the beginning of chapter 4 in the book of Joshua, we find the nation of Israel in the afterglow of a miraculous intervention from God.  They had just completed crossing the river Jordan on dry ground.  And before moving on, God has some very specific instructions for them …

Joshua 4:1-3 (MSG)
When the whole nation was finally across,
God spoke to Joshua: “Select twelve men
from the people, a man from each tribe,
and tell them, ‘From right here, the middle
of the Jordan where the feet of the priests are
standing firm, take twelve stones. Carry
them across with you and set them down
in the place where you camp tonight.'”

God is requesting that the nation of Israel pile up stones.  His primary purpose in making this request was to teach forward the great message of his care and love for his people, and his direct intervention and deliverance in their lives .  And although God specifically mentions teaching future generations in his instructions to Joshua, he also ends verse 7 with …

“… These stones are a permanent
memorial for the People of Israel.”

I believe this broadened and personalized it’s significance in the lives of both those who were a part of the miracle, and generations to come.

I love the idea of piling up stones, but i also love that people rarely stayed where they piled their stones.  It was a marker, not a destination.  A place of communing, memorial and rest, but not a final resting place.  I love the thought that they paused, built, honored, and then moved on.

I would encourage you to expose your senses to the marker moments in your own spiritual journey.  Listen and watch, and then take action in finding, and piling up stones.  Praise God for who he is, and what he did, or taught.  And then, after an appropriate time of reflection and rest, make sure to leave your marker and move on.  What would your earthly life have amounted to, if you had stopped and stayed as a kindergartner, teenager, or a parent with a full nest?  And what will your spiritual life count for if you stop at salvation?  Sometimes your journey will be more wander than walk, more wilderness than path.  What a blessing it would be, if in the midst of a wander in a wilderness circle, you pass by one of your piles of stones.  Because as much as markers point in the direction that you are going, they can be a reminder of where, and to whom you need to return.


  1. excellent analogy — what a great message


  2. […] invite you to read the “piling up stones“ post from December 2009.  For some who have joined our journey more recently, it will be […]

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