Friday, February 19, 2010

STANDING STONES


When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (Genesis 28:16-22, NIV)

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 stood and to 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, NIV)

The other day, one of the amazing mothers I connect with through social media proudly announced: "My formerly G-tube fed son ate an entire grilled cheese sandwich today. It can happen for you, too." What a powerful story! Something we all seem to take for granted - swallowing, eating, digesting on our own - was given as a new gift to this toddler that day. Years of parental struggles and concern over getting the proper nutrition into this child neared a close. It's times like these that we can share the joy and proclaim, God is good!

This woman's life is a great deal like the stones we read about in today's scripture passages. There for all to see, she bears witness to what the Lord has done. When she perseveres and no one can figure out how, she has the opportunity to share how her faithful Savior has carried her through. Despite her sorrows, she has the powerful effect of causing others to worship and praise their Creator for life's simple miracles.

You have a story to share as well - an AMAZING story! If you're walking hand-in-hand with God, raising a child with a special need (or living with any sort of challenge), you have the gift of being used to change the world around you. Whether you realize it or not, people are watching you. They're wondering how you get through this life that, some days, you feel you are barely crawling through.

That's a heavy, but delightful responsibility if you meditate on it! If we are fixing our eyes on Jesus, pressing on with Him, being faithful stewards of the pattern He's allowed for our lives, then we will be a beautiful reflection of Him to everyone around us. We will just naturally glow with His glory. People will see us as those standing stones in their midst and ask, "What's happened here?" That gives you the chance to share even more with them, changing their lives in powerful ways.

Yet, if we face our trials with continual bitterness, seeing no good in the midst of our weariness, we will look like oozing mud rather than a standing stone. Mucky, dirty, unstable and definitely not something people want to get stuck in, we will repel those around us. In endless self-pity or anger, we lose the great gift of having our pain being recycled for our own good and God's magnification. We lose people's understanding and support for the less fortunate. And we add to the building of society's hardness around us.

It's not to say that we don't all have our bad days where we fall apart for all to see, but we must not remain there. When people see us renewed and restored after an episode of breakdown during a tough time, we are "real" to them. They see us doing things imperfectly and realize that they too could carry on with the help of the Lord. If we walk around with an endless grin, others give up, thinking a joyful life in Jesus is unatainable, and that you are either a fraud or repressive.

Be real! Share those stories! And if you are connected to THE Rock of Ages, your stories can't help but give you divine purpose as one of His standing stones when you make your life transparent to others.

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