Our journey of faith is a constantly evolving one and hopefully a constantly maturing one, however, as Dave spoke about in his sermon last week, maturity more often than not is the result of facing challenging and sometimes unpleasant circumstances. These moments become part of the greater story of our lives with Jesus and while they are sometimes painful, they are often stories worth sharing.
God couldn't be clearer in His word at the importance of passing on the stories we have of the ways in which He has proved faithful in our lives. As Joshua and the Israelites faced the flowing waters of the Jordan river God gave them a clear way through, He gave specific instructions as to what to do with the ark of the covenant in order to cross but these instructions were quickly followed with instructions of how this event was to be remembered, Joshua 4:4-7 reads:
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.
Continuing onto verse 21 it reads:
He [Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
God makes it very clear that passing on the details of this part of the Israelites journey and history is essential. It's also important to note that these instructions are marked by God's amazing grace. Preceding these events God, through Moses, had liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In an action-packed sequence of events God had parted the waters of the Red Sea as they were hotly pursued by the Egyptian army. Their journey then continued through the desert and in no time at all the complaining started, they quickly forgot the power, faithfulness, love and provision of the God who had parted the waters before them. Jump forward to our Jordan river crossing and it's like God is saying 'I want to make extra sure you don't forget the miracle that has just happened here, don't forget who I am and what I am capable of.' God is gentle in how He does this but firm and clear in His instructions and it's not just for the benefit of the generations who are witnessing the event with their own eyes, it's for their 'children' and their 'descendants' so that it will be remembered 'forever'.
Our God desires and deserves to be glorified and honoured and we have the awesome privilege of doing this through the power of testimony, through our stories. The words of these stories have power even beyond what we know, Revelation 12:11 says it best:
'They triumphed over him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony'
Don't underestimate the power of your story!
This privilege isn't just reserved for 'heroes of the faith', each and every one of us has a unique story to tell, don't be discouraged through comparison. God wants your story to be told and shared and He wants to encourage not just people within our generation with those stories but the generations to come; our leaders of tomorrow, so let's give them the best inheritance we can!
The Greatest gift we have to give is sharing the life that we have lived.