“2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
That’s pretty rough, you know?! For the Israelites to look back at their time in Egypt and remember it as a place where they ate all the food they wanted. Forgetting they were in slavery, forgetting they weren’t free to worship God, forgetting how God had miraculously-powerfully-awesomely delivered them.
Instead, looking at their present circumstances, they remembered the past differently and thereby forgetting who God really was…
I’d like to be all judge-ey about the Israelites… you know… “Seriously people? You want to go back to slavery?”… “Come on Israel! How can you not see that God has cared for you and will provide here in the desert too?!!!”
But I know all too well that I do this very thing.
Because I too easily forget.
I forget what really happened. I forget what God really did. I forget who God really is.
And instead, just like the Israelites, I stand on the precipice of making some really bad decisions because my skewed recollection of the past leads me to have a contorted view of the present.
Without help, my memories fade and shift, all too often to my detriment. I wrote before about memory and it is worth revisiting. Because I feel like it is time for us to stack some rocks.
Exodus 16 shows us the danger of what happens when people forget, when memory is distorted… We too need help to really see, see beyond the highlights, see beyond the struggles, see beyond the pain, see beyond the laughter… see instead to the heart of God at work in our lives. Because when we cannot see our perspective shifts, memory fades and we forget. In forgetting we run the risk of losing the valuable and making the same mistakes.
So how does “stacking rocks” help us remember?
In Joshua chapters 3-4 we see God miraculously stop the Jordan River from flowing so the whole nation of Israel could cross the riverbed on dry ground. And when they reached the other side safely, “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… to serve as a sign among you. In the future when your children ask you, ‘what do these stones mean?’ tell them…”
Stacking rocks and making a monument served to help the people remember, not just for a little while but for generations.
This summer, at the end of each week, our camp staff came together for a time to stack rocks. In this chance to reflect upon our week, we dug deeper into our experience to see more clearly how God was at work and therefore know Him more deeply.
In stacking rocks we have a chance for a proper recollection of the past which can shape proper perspective on the present.
We had rocks that represented our highlights from the week, shiny ones representing ways we saw other people shine, big rocks representing the “dark” times we experienced, green stones for growth moments, and earth-toned stones for the “God moments” from our week. As we would share, it was neat how one moment actually contained many of these at work. And there we could see more clearly.
So… when the time came for me to say good-bye to our staff, I sent them home with a container of rocks from the summer but this time with a candle added.
Tonight, I want to share that with you as well. First, I share the encouragement for you to be more intentional about stacking rocks. Choose to develop perspective about your life that allows you to more clearly see God at work. Choose to remember so that, in remembering God at work in the past, you are able to see God more clearly in your present.
Second, I want to leave these scriptures to “stack rocks” and remember who God really is and who He calls you to be and how you are to live.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life;
What rocks do you need to stack today?