I want to thank Russ Chambers for his message on the evening of March 25, 2007 at 20th Street Baptist Kenova that inspired this article.
For 40 years the people of Israel wandered the wilderness waiting for the last of the unbelieving, faithless generation to die before they could enter the land promised to Abraham. Finally the glorious day came and they approached the wild and raging Jordan River where God told the people to cross. The priests carrying the ark of the Lord stepped into the flood-swollen waters – in faith they plunged in and got their feet wet… The waters on the upriver side rose up and stood in one heap a great distance away. Then the priests crossed to the middle and stood on dry ground while all Israel crossed on dry land.
After they all had crossed and while the priests still stood in the middle, God directed Joshua to send 12 men – one from each tribe – to go back and pick up a big stone from the middle of the river. They stacked them up as God told them to. He told them this was to be a memorial so that when their children saw them and asked about them, they could tell the children of how God stopped the flow of the Jordan River so the people could cross on dry, solid ground. (Full story – Joshua 3-4.)
Just one generation later – the children of the generation that received that grand entry into the Promised Land – we are told in Judges 2:10 “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work He had done for Israel.”
Why didn’t they know??? How could their parents, and grandparents (and adult church leaders) have forgotten to include God’s wonderful works for them in telling the old family stories?
But wait……… When you start a story that begins with “Back when I was younger…” do you include what God has done for you? Do you just tell the “I walked three miles to school in the snow” stories?
Or do you tell about the times you walked in the “wilderness” lonely and fearful, and God parted a “river” so you could safely cross on dry ground, protected by His own hand? Do you tell them how you met Jesus and how much you love Him?
Is your life story a memorial to the God of wonders or a history lesson on plain life “back in the day?”
There is great danger in the plain old stories without including God in them… Look what happened to Israel’s children – Judges 2:11 says “Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals (false gods).”
Testimony or History? What story are you telling?
First printed April 2007 in The Freedom Reader, a publication of Spring Valley Freedom Bapist Church, Huntington, WV.