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.” So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. – Joshua 4:1-9
Gathering stones from a river…I can relate to this. Geologists actually do this for fun (and work). I spent about three years of my life studying a river called the Clackamas River in Oregon, where I measured, weighed, and sifted thousands of rocks as part of my PhD research. These years were some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.
God has asked the Israelite leaders to gather stones to make a monument, or standing stones, so that they will remember what God did for them at the Jordan River. They were to take the stone on their shoulders and carry it to the other side of the Jordan where it could me made into a monument for future generations. The stones that the men were collecting were river rocks, worn smooth by many years of floods.
Rocks can be angular and rough or smooth and round. The angular ones have not travelled far or they have been broken by weathering. The round and smooth ones have been worn smooth my many floods that have taken away the sharp edges. Our souls are a bit like rocks –they start out rough and angular with many pointy edges.
As we go through life our souls can get more angular and broken or they can get rounded and smooth if allow ourselves to be carried by the river and washed by floods. The rounding and smoothing process takes place because the rocks hit each other as they tumble down the river. Perhaps there is a life lesson here. What is the process whereby our souls can “become rounded and smooth”?
It seems our souls become more rounded and smooth in the same way rocks do — we place ourselves in community with other souls so that we jostle and bump into each other as we go through our life together. This process of living life together is full of conflict and floods — but it is in these things that the smoothing and rounding of our souls is accomplished.
We can choose to remove ourselves from our place by the river and disconnect ourselves from spring to reduce conflict in our lives, but this choice may mean that our souls remain angular and rough. We may find ourselves left out of the monument that God is in the process of building here on earth so that people will come to know and love Him.
Prayer: God smooth our souls through the process of living life together and all the difficult conflict and hard work this entails.SDG