The Twelve Collections

When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, “Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.”’

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”—Joshua 4:1–7 (NLT)

Why do people make scrapbooks, keep tickets from movies, and collect other special mementos? Because these things serve as reminders of wonderful memories and milestones in our lives. They allow us to look back and remember some of our happiest moments, and even share the stories with our friends, children, and even grandchildren. I call these types of objects “memory markers.”

Here in Joshua 4, we see a beautiful example of this. Once the people had crossed the Jordan as they prepared to take the city of Jericho and enter the Promised Land, the Lord instructed them to take 12 stones and build a memorial to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and power. And the Israelites would be able to share the amazing story with their children and pass it on from generation to generation.  

We see this practice on several other occasions in the Old Testament, and each time the idea was the same: to remember what God had done. Friends, I am writing to share two things with you . . .

1.    I highly recommend you take up the practice of making memory markers in your life, particularly in your faith. There are a few ways you can do this: the most effective way I’ve found for myself is journaling. I would recommend your journaling take two unique forms. First, journal about significant milestones, prayer requests, answered prayer, and ministry moments in your life. Second, I highly recommend journaling about your devotional time. If you’re studying a book, break it up into paragraphs at a time and journal on what the Lord is showing you in each passage. This is a great thing to look back on to see how the Lord has grown you over the years, and is a priceless gift to pass down to your children or someone you’re discipling. If you need some help with this journaling process, watch this video. 

2.    I encourage you to begin to see yourself as a memory marker—a memorial to God’s redemptive and saving work. I know it sounds weird, but think about it . . . Like the 12 stones that represented a work God did to bring His people into the Promised Land, you serve as a living example of the work of God through Christ Jesus. Your life is a testimony, a demonstration of the transformational power, faithfulness, and mercy of our Savior. And as God uses you to impact the lives of others and bring people into His saving grace through you, those people will be able to share with their loved ones and with the generations to come about the work God did in them and how He used you. 

DIG: What mementos or memory markers do you have for significant moments in your life?

DISCOVER: Why did the Lord instruct the people to make the memorial?

DO: If you haven’t done so already, take up the practice of journaling. Start today!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.