“…when your children ask…”

Got any mementos around the house that bring back memories of special events? Perhaps a mug from a favorite vacation spot or a worn tee shirt that reminds you of a special event. These somewhat informal artifacts can be part of the fabric that weaves families together by preserving special memories of shared experiences.

When the children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, the Lord gave them some specific directions as to how to cross the Jordan River “because you have not been this way before.” (Joshua 3:4)

They needed a miraculous intervention by God to get the thousands of people across the river at flood stage.

The stack of stones

After the successful crossing, God’s instruction was to take twelve stones from the riverbed and build a memorial on the hillside adjacent to the river. The purpose of this stack of stones arranged purposefully there was to serve as a memorial forever (Joshua 4:6). The pile of stones smoothed by years of rushing water positioned amongst the jagged hillside terrain would be a curious sight.

The oddity of the smooth stones in an abnormal location was to provide a teachable moment.

pile of rocks

“…when your children shall ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’”

Joshua 4:21

Children love to ask, “Why?”. The memorial would capitalize on a child’s natural curiosity and induce an invitation for parents to teach their children of God’s miraculous provision for His people. The power of the stories of how Jehovah provided for His people in real space/time history was vital in passing on the faith to the next generation. Parents and grandparents could rehearse eyewitness experiences of God’s faithfulness to help instill true faith in the hearts of the next generation. The stones were to be a memorial forever (Joshua 4:6). The stories would be told over and over and would become part of the identity of the people of God.

clorox wipes, toilet paper and a face mask sitting on the trunk of a car with an LCS sticker/magnet on the back of the car

Pandemic paraphernalia

So, what memories and artifacts will continue exist when the pandemic is behind us? What items around the house will remain to provoke questions from children? What will remind us all how the Lord sustained us and allowed us to persevere during a trial that we thought would never end?

I can envision questions like, “Grandma, why do have so much toilet paper?” “What was Zoom?” Or perhaps, “Why are you always telling me to wash my hands?”

Maybe we hang on to a mask or two that can be discovered by children or grandchildren one day that will generate some questions. Perhaps that will allow us to share how our faithful God sustained us during some long, boring days at home. Instead of stories of “walking to school in the snow, uphill, into the wind both ways, with only a hot biscuit to keep our hands warm”, we tell about times of solitude and learning to grind out the schoolwork with only occasional contact with teachers and peers. Times that fostered our growth in grace, patience with one another, and cultivated perseverance.

Better prepared next time

There will be more times in our lives that will call for endurance, perseverance, and tenacity. They may not look like a pandemic, but circumstances will come that call for the application of the lessons learned during these days. Having some visual reminders of God’s faithfulness today, can serve our families and especially our children well in the future.

So, keep an item or two around the house to remind us of His faithfulness and to arouse the curiosity of the next generation. 

“…but tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”

Psalm 78:4

“Grandpa, what are all these wipes for?”