Read Joshua 4:4-7
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (NLT)
One of my more pleasurable parts of church ministry was visiting people and asking them to tell me their stories. Pastors who get so involved in vision and strategy and sermon preparation and corporate type ministry tend not to do this sort of thing—more the pity!
Every person has a story to tell. We need to tell our own stories and we need to hear the stories of others. God has granted us uniqueness; he has launched us on a distinctive journey in life. Keeping it all to ourselves is to privatise ourselves and it is to deprive others of some of the blessings of hearing our stories.
Because our individual stories are part of a larger common human story. People who by nature are loved by God but estranged from that God. People who have their share of pleasure and pain, delight and disappointment. Sharing our stories is a way of identifying our common humanity and helping us make the most of it.
And our stories are the way we remember and make sense of the past. Very much like what is described in our text. The Israelites passed on their experiences of dealing with God and one another through stories. Their children did not live in a vacuum. They had a history, and stories were the means of discerning that history.
Let’s determine to hear stories and tell stories. They are ways we make sense of our world and ourselves.