Not too long ago, I preached a sermon on one of the miracles that Jesus performed. Actually, it was a miracle within a miracle. Jesus was on His way to heal the daughter of Jairus when a woman with a bleeding issue sought healing from Him also. After simply touching His clothes, through faith that in doing so Jesus could heal her, she was healed. Jairus, after hearing that his daughter had died, might have changed his belief that Jesus could help him. Healing was one thing. Raising someone from the dead, quite another. But the God-man Jesus did just that. Two people with amazing stories to share of what Jesus had done for each of them.
It brought to mind the recounting of the people of Israel, having been redeemed from their captivity in Egypt for 400 years or so, as they were getting ready to finally cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. It was the last obstacle before they reached the goal of their faith.
From Joshua, chapter three, we find these words:
“When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.’ So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. 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. 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. ’” (vv. 1 - 7)
God had performed a miracle within a miracle within a miracle. He had kept His promise to the Israelites all of those years that He would in fact deliver them to their “new home” of the Promised Land. In His timing. During that time of departure, He had given them water from rocks, manna and quail from the sky, clothes that never wore out, the Ten Commandments, and now they stood at the doorstep of something they had only up to then been able to dream about and trust would be given to them. The Jordan River lay before them, which wouldn’t have been too much of an issue for them to cross, finding an appropriate spot to ford. But God’s perfect timing dictated that the crossing would happen during the spring floods - the worst possible time to plan a crossing. Except when you’re the almighty and Living God. It’s the perfect time to show your power and might to a people who need to “see it to believe it. ” And He allowed the flooding waters to be “piled up” and they cross the Jordan on the now dry river bed. A sight to behold!
And since the Israelites had bad memories of God’s love and grace toward them, He instructed them to take twelve stones (one for each tribe of Israel) and place them on the other side of the river as a lasting monument of His loving care and action and power in their lives. He must have known that this would be a well-traveled crossing from that point on, as He predicted that the peoples’ offspring would often pass by and see the twelve-stone memorial and surely ask about it. And their response? Even generation after generation later? To tell about God. And how He moved in the lives of His people and took care of them out of His power and might and unending love.
I posed the question to the people of our Fishers Community Church that day to think about what their “12-Stone Story” was, based on the Israelites’ twelve stone memorial and testimony. How has God shown up and displayed His eternal and perfect qualities in their lives. We all have them. God has carried us throughout all of our lives. Through the greatest of days to the lowest. His faithful promise is to always be there for us and with us. What’s your “12-Stone Story?” We’re going to create a page on our FCC website for us to share our stories. It’ll be good for us to be able to put into words these stories, and it’ll be good for others to be strengthened through them.
Here’s one of mine:
This past summer, I experienced something that was supposed to be a routine medical procedure. An appendectomy. Satan loves for us to think like that. “Routine.” Problem was, it was far from routine. The laparoscopic procedure left abscesses in my abdomen that required a second and much more intensive surgery. This resulted in a two-week stay in the hospital and a loss of more than twenty five pounds. I thought that the first surgery was a painful experience, but the second one was my ordeal. I wondered if this was how I would die, complications from a routine surgery. You know, like one of the stories we seem to read about somewhat regularly, unfortunately.
I never thought I would have to use a walker at he tender age of fifty years young, but there I was, having to re-learn how to walk. There's an unsettling feeling when the doctors can't seem to find the cause of the infection inside of your body. The meds that they give to help you many times cause other problems simultaneously. The many daily needle pokes.
But I stand here now, “on the other side of the Jordan,” able to tell my “12-Stone Story” of how God showed up and was so incredibly faithful throughout it all. In my life and in the life of Fishers Community Church. Most of this happened while Mitzi and the boys were in Greece on vacation. God protected them and allowed them to enjoy the sights and visiting relatives and bring them home safely. God provided a dear friend to care for me during my stay in the hospital and during my recovery at home before my family returned. I saw the love of so many other friends and family who called and visited and otherwise loved on me during this time. God provided incredible doctors and nurses who cared so professionally and lovingly (I have a renewed and utmost respect and love for you nurses!) for me. God provided a loving and caring bringer of His Word to FCC during what was supposed to be my two-week vacation absence, which turned into a five-week stay. Thank you, Lew! I saw the love and concern of my mom & dad and my brothers during this time. I knew it all along, all of my life, but sometimes it takes these times for us to “remember” it! And finally, God provided the healing that I so desperately needed that only He can provide. I have truly never been sicker and more vulnerable in my life. When you are at your least, there is nothing else to hold onto except the love of Christ our Savior to bring us through. Everything else is stripped away, like the confidence in routine surgeries, the thought that vacation plans can still be fulfilled, and that I’m somehow in control of my life. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I stand here today, telling everyone who will listen, of God’s love and care and mercy and grace in my “12-Stone Story.” Will you share yours too?
FISHERS COMMUNITY CHURCH
Pastor Joseph Doenges
WORSHIP SUNDAY 10:00 AM
301 N. 6th Street
St. Clair, MI 48079
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization