“What do these stones mean” (Joshua 4:6b NIV)?

It struck me today–December 1st, 2021. This is the last “1st” day of the year. And here I am, still trying to apply my 2021 New Year’s resolutions, those hopes and dreams, goals and aspirations, created on January 1st.

Anyone else?  Have the last 334 days flown quickly by, making your head spin, wondering where they went? In only thirty-one short rotations on Earth’s axis, we’ll have said goodbye to 2021. Hello to 2022.

Frankly, this seems almost unfathomable. In my attempt to wrap my mind around this truth, I’ve decided to look back on the last eleven months–make a list of those things that have happened, whether good, bad, or ugly. Here are just a few for me and my family:

  • Learned Bill and I were going to be grandparents for the second time.
  • Brother-in-law underwent open heart surgery.
  • Attended two writers conferences–one virtually and the other in person.
  • In-laws came to stay for several weeks after one’s total knee and the other’s shoulder surgeries.
  • Discovered our grandbaby was a girl!
  • Watched our Allie attend her first formal dance.
  • Visited the beach 2x.
  • Had several devotions / articles published in on-line sites.
  • Visited the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as family in Idaho.
  • Celebrated our granddaughter Lila’s 1st birthday.
  • Turned 52!
  • Welcomed Baby Emory Wren to the world!
  • Continued edits on my work in progress, The Bible by the Bed–under contract with Redemption Press.
  • Rushed our Golden Prancer to the emergency vet after she suffered a copperhead bite.
  • Cheered our daughter on in her first basketball game in a brand new school.
  • Said goodbye to too many family members and friends.

In listing these memories, my heart slows a bit, and I find that I’m more grateful for the last eleven months rather than left feeling breathless about being at the year’s last.

And this is no new thing. Even the children of Israel knew the value of looking back.

Joshua 4 says–

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 4:4-7 NIV).

Why stones?

As a reminder to remember.

What do they mean?

God is faithful, and His love endures forever.

Me? I pulled out the calendar rather than look at erected stones. (Though my mind is still sharp most of the time, I needed to look back to remember much of what happened and when.)

As I flipped through, beginning with January until today, I found myself smiling in my remembering. I found myself thanking God for His goodness. His grace. His mercies, which were new each and every one of those 344 mornings.

And He’ll be faithful for the remaining 31, still the same in 2022 when we write those new lists on January 1st–the first “1st” of the new year.

God is good, and He’s written His letter of love upon our hearts each and every day.

What are some stones of remembrance for you in 2021? What are some pebbles left to be stacked upon that alter? You still have 31 days, so don’t delay!

Dear Jesus, thank you for ordering all of our steps in each of our days. We are grateful for You–for Your goodness in it all… Yes, in the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Thank you for loving us. Amen!