I read in Joshua 4 the other day about how when the Lord dried up the Jordan River for His people to cross, they were instructed to leave stones in remembrance of what He had done. That way when others saw the stones and asked, “What do they mean?” they could tell their tale of the Lord’s faithfulness. They could tell of His “mighty and extraordinarily powerful” hand, so others could come “to fear and obey and worship Him with profound awe and reverence.” So they, in their own lives, could remember to say thank you over and over again.
I’ve haven’t been able to get those stones out of my head for weeks.
I just keep thinking that I want my life to be like those stones that only serve the purpose of pointing back to the goodness and glory of the Father. I want to tell those stories, both the big and the small so others can start laying their own stones of remembrance out for the world to see, as they too connect the dots of all He has done.
This time of the year has always been my favorite because of the way it seems to draw the thankfulness out of us all. Some of my fondest memories involve sitting around long tables with loved ones, each speaking our thankfulness out loud. Each living in a state of remembrance as the year starts creeping to it’s end. Looking back, I think we all brought our stones to the table when we would gather. We didn’t hide them in our laps. We didn’t compare them. We didn’t count to see who had the most. We simply set them out for all to see, and took turns asking one another, “What do they mean?” And we shared, both of the good news and the hard times the year had brought. We shared with laughter and tears and songs and jokes. We said thank you over not only our own lives, but each other’s too, over and over again.
I can still feel the way remembrance changed everything, how those two little words settled deeply into our souls. They had a certain weight about them. They seemed to ground us no matter how shaky the world felt around us. (They still do.) In those moments it was just us, sitting around a table together, all beautifully aware of the way God was leaning in close.
I wonder if that is how the Lord’s people felt when they sat their stones out? When they told their stories to those who passed by? Did each time they remembered make them feel more steady? Did they feel more joy because they could literally see, laid our before them, the evidence of what God had done? I like to think so. I like to think they felt the way remembering and saying thank you changed everything too.
The table I will be gathered around this year is smaller than the years before. Time does that. It brings smaller tables and more stories that cause tears to spring up in your eyes, but I’ve found the joy never fades. The joy never shrinks. In fact, I think it only grows as the “thank yous” do too.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and though the season of remembrance is upon us, what I really I want is to wake up each and everyday, look at my own pile of stones I’ve gathered from my short life, and remember to say thank you long after the winter weather passes. I want to feel the weight everyday. I want those words to always be on the tip of my tongue.
Because I think that the whole story—my whole story—rests within the space found between the ‘thank’ and the ‘You.’ And if that is all I ever get to say about the life God is creating and speaking into existence for me, I think I would be okay with that.
In fact, I think it says it all.
words by Jacqueline Winstead and photo by Leah Van Otterloo