Storytelling historians


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.
- from Joshua 4:5-7

Joshua sent representatives from each of the twelve tribes back into Jordan riverbed for a purpose. These twelve would be given an enormous responsibility. And this responsibility is one that we share.

Each of them – and each of us – has been drafted into the role of storytelling historians. The representatives of the Israelite tribes carried a responsibility to pass along the story of God’s miraculous work to the next generation. We also carry a responsibility to faithfully pass along what we’ve heard and seen of the Lord.

Joshua didn’t suggest that these representatives take up this role. He didn’t recommend it. He gave them a command. And he built an altar as a trigger, to create the space for the conversation. We believe he did this because he knew that the spiritual vitality of the community depended on the faithfulness of its storytelling historians.

We can’t all experience every spiritual experience. Many experiences depend on your circumstances and background. To glean the breadth and depth of life lived with God, we have to be willing to share our experiences and to share in the experiences of others.

We may never have a Jordan River miracle moment. But we can participate in that experience as we listen to Joshua’s story. And we can find ways to leverage the triggers that are built into our rhythms of life: Christmas, Easter, wedding anniversaries, birthdays or the anniversary of the start of a new job. Even just Sunday morning church attendance. All of these provide opportunities for us to tell slices of our stories to our children and to one another.

Our community is full of stories, stories of conversion and transformation, healing and reconciliation, strength and courage. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear them. And the Lord’s at the center of them all.

How have you embraced your role as a storytelling historian? How have you participated as a listener? What effect has this had on your spiritual vitality?

1 Comment

We took our three oldest grandchildren on a mission trip to Africa. Since the nights are long, dark and no tv I told/read our life story every night. I called them OUR stones of remembrance of Gods faithfulness to us. It is still written down in a journal for the next generation.

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