When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 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.” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 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, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 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.” Joshua 4:1-7

2019 was a mixed bag for me. Overall, it was a good year with more moments of joy than of stress. There were times when I could clearly see God’s provision and love. And there were other times that I waited in silence, anxious to hear some whisper of hope from my Lord. 

Honestly, that probably describes 2019 for a lot of us. Each day has its own ebb and flow and rhythm that we dance to, doing the best we can to care for the people in our life, keep the house respectable and all the plates spinning. 

But in the midst of the busy day-to-day, it is so important to take a moment, breathe deeply and reflect on how God has been at work. When you do, you might be surprised how much it changes you and your relationship with God.

Take the story of Joshua in the Bible. Moses had been leading the Israelites for decades in the desert and when he dies, Joshua is appointed as the new leader. His first assignment is to lead a ton of people across the Jordan river which is, by the way, at flood stage. This is not an easy task, but God reminds Joshua to be strong and courageous because He has given him everything he needs to complete the task before him. (If you ever need a good pep talk-check out Joshua 1:1-9)

Joshua obeys God and leads the people right up to the edge of the water. As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant dipped a toe in the water, the water upstream stopped flowing and they all crossed on dry ground. It’s very reminiscent of when God parted the Red Sea years earlier. While they are crossing, Joshua tells the leaders of each tribe to gather stones from the middle of the river, and set them up where they will sleep that night, so that they will always remember how God had worked that day, but also so that they could build the faith of others by telling them about what God had done.

So the Israelite Leaders stopped and collected large stones just as Joshua instructed them. Joshua set them up to serve as a reminder of what God had done, giving them hope and courage for the future. 

It was paramount that they stopped right then and there to honor God and recognize His deeds. Their journey was far from over. They would go on to Jericho next, and succeed in bringing down a city fortress. 

But Joshua knew that even in the time it would take the Israelites to travel to Jericho, it would be easy for them to forget all that God had done to get them there.. It would be tempting to fear the unknown before them or lose sight of the One who was holding everything together. 

As humans, it doesn’t take long for us to forget what God has done. We too can become desensitized to His presence in our day to day routines. 

For us, it is equally important to stop and recognize God’s presence, power and provision in our lives.

The New Year is a perfect time to do just that. As we put 2019 in our rear-view and look ahead to 2020, it’s important to stop and take stock of what God has done in the past and what He is doing in and around us now. As we take this time to reflect and remember,  our faith and trust in Him grows and He grants us boldness and courage for the future. We are then able to share with those around us how God is real and at work everyday.

In every circumstance, good or bad, God has been present, active and moving, working on your behalf. Because of His great love for you, He will continue to go before you and give you courage and strength and hope. 

What could you use as a memory stone in your life? Perhaps you could write down some of the ways you’ve felt God’s presence or seen His provision this past year, and put it someplace you will see it regularly. Maybe there were times you witnessed His power in situations where you could not have succeeded alone.. For me, I am overwhelmed with awe when I see a beautiful sunset and I marvel at the beauty of His work. You could even download the image at the top of this article, print it out and write your own “God-moments” on the back. 

Take just a few minutes and “set out some stones” to remember the past, to recognize Him in the present and look forward to the wonderful things He has in store for the future.  

Merciful God and Father, sometimes it is hard to see you at work in the moment. Please help us to see you with fresh eyes. Help us to see how you have been at work in the past, in the blessings and the tough times. Help us to recognize your handiwork, so that we can see it now, as you work in and around us. Father, you have promised us hope for the future. You go before us and call us to be strong and courageous because you are always with us. Help us to look forward to the future, with the faith and strength that you give, knowing that we are your beloved children and that you will never leave us. We trust that in the same way you led Joshua, that you will lead us and provide for our every need. Help us to draw close to you and follow you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.