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'What do these stones mean?'

A devotional thought for the New Year.

"I can't wait for 2020 to be over."
"What a terrible year!"
"I'm glad this year is about to be in my rear-view mirror." 

I've heard these and similar phrases from both friends speaking in earnest and strangers making small talk. I guess it's true: We'd all rather have 2020 behind us and look forward to a time in 2021 when we can go back to whatever our normal was prior to COVID-19.

Remember the blessings

It's a good time of year to be thinking of new things. But as important as focusing on putting this year and its negative impact behind us, it's also important to look back and remember God's blessings and protection during this unusual season in our lives.

Stones of rememberance

One of the ways ancient peoples remembered a special time, place or event in their lives was by mounding stones. The ancient Hebrews were no different. When God re-named Jacob to Israel and promised him he would found a great new nation, Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the spot where God had talked to him: Bethel. (Genesis 35: 9-15) 

When the people of Israel found themselves facing a much stronger military force in the Philistines, God routed the opposing force through his power. Samuel, the priest, also set a stone he named Ebenezer to commemorate God's deliverance of Israel. (1 Samuel 7:7-12)

And when the nation of Israel crossed into the land God promised them by miraculously crossing the Jordan riverbed on dry land while God halted the river's flow, God told their leader Joshua to set up 12 stones "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 4:6-7)

Reflect on the good

I'm not suggesting you find a rock and set it up to remember this year. What I am suggesting is to set a mental marker as a remembrance of this year not for how bad it was, but for how good God was as he saw you through it. Look back for the ways he protected you, helped you as you faced a particular setback, or struggled through an issue, and thank him for being the father who was there with you through 2020. 

Written by Russ Dilday, associate vice president for public relations for Buckner International.

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