Tuesday, July 5, 2011

OnFire #263 Stacking Stones

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #263 Stacking Stones

Summer means that OnFire will not be regular as we have vacation Bible school, a youth mission, vacation, and our annual Baptist assembly. I’ll send out as I’m able, but I know it will not be regular over the next few months.


While on a canoe trip with some friends a few years ago, we came across a rock cairn. We were expecting it because we had read about it in our guidebook, and one of the guys also knew there was a geocache located there. Even still, I was a little surprised to see this pile of stones in the middle of the wilderness. I’ve forgotten the story of why it is there, but a pile of stones like that means something.

Not long ago I was reading in Joshua 4 and came to the passage where the Hebrew people crossed the Jordan. What a great day it was. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, they finally went into the Promised Land. And, what a miraculous set of circumstances it was. Just as their fathers and mothers had crossed over the Red Sea on dry land, they crossed the Jordan on dry land when it was at flood stage.

To commemorate the occasion, a man from each tribe picked up a rock from the river bed where the priests carrying the ark of the covenant had stood, and carried it to their camping location that night. The twelve rocks became a lasting marker of what the Lord had done.

As I read this passage, I was struck by the fact that someone had to carry those rocks. 12 men had to lift them from the river bed, hoist them to their shoulders, and carry them to wherever their camp was that night. We’re not talking river pebbles. To make an effective marker out of twelve stones, they would need to be large, as big as the men could carry. 12 marbles would never make someone stop and ask, “What happened here?”

It occurred to me that sometimes God asks us to pick up a big stone and to carry it for a while. Life hands us an additional burden which we must bear for some time.

That thought wasn’t very encouraging when I first had it. I considered that I had enough burden to carry without thinking of more. But thankfully another thought occurred. They only had to carry them from the river to the camp. I’m sure to those men it seemed long enough, perhaps too long depending on the location in the area of at Gilgal. But it was not indefinite or forever.

My problem is that I would like to know “How long?” There are some answers we just don’t have, but these words seemed to suggest that it would not be forever. There would be a time to set the burden down.

It’s not everyday that passages lift off the page, but that was a neat day and I had one more thought. At the end we’d be able to say, “Look what God has done.” In the same way those stones represented God’s power and strength to bring the Hebrews across the Jordan River, there would be something we can point to as a reminder that God was with us.

It’s not enjoyable to pick up a rock, to lift a burden for even a short time. But I drew some comfort that day and I hope it provides some comfort for you.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published July 5, 2011. To subscribe or reply, email onfireletter@gmail.com. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/.