what_means_these_stonesSeveral shells lie in a dish in my home. Among them is a black stone. Visitors ask, “What is this black stone among the shells?” Thus, I share a lesson a friend taught me.

While vacationing in Hawaii, my husband, a friend, and I, perused an area blighted by a volcanic eruption. Smoke-like wisps twisted into the air. The stench of sulfur lingered! I complained, and hurried off.

However, a tap on my shoulder turned me around to see my friend holding a small but exquisite orchid he’d plucked, for me, from the scorched earth. I felt ashamed. Instead of looking beyond the dross, I assumed that all was ugly. I gathered up a small piece of the lava stone to remind me: orchids bloom in the midst of a spent lava flow!

In a small heart-shaped, box, is another stone. Guests inquire about it too. It’s a Petoskey Stone, bearing unusual spots and colors, favored by those who search out Lake Michigan beaches. However, mine is not a polished one like gift shops sell. I keep mine unpolished to remind myself of my need for polishing.


These stones bring to mind admonition from the book of Joshua. The leader who replaced Moses, along with a tired crew of complaining 40-year wanderers, including 40,000 soldiers, ready for battle, had just crossed through a dry riverbed, just minutes before Jordan’s banks overflowed. God repeated a Red Sea scenario, holding back the waters! Joshua told 12 of his band to each pick up a stone (rock) and carry it on his shoulder to the other side. Joshua himself pitched the stone memorial, as a future reminder when these new residents of Canaan’s children might ask, “What Mean These Stones?” (Joshua 4:21). Rocks as a witness! Parents were to remember and tell: These stones remind us of God’s love. We are to set aside our grumbling and remember God’s leading.

Not only were 12 stones set up at the first encampment in Jericho but another 12 were erected on the very spot where the priests stood in the midst of the Jordan. Again, as the leader, Joshua placed the stones. All the while God restrained the floodwaters. Remembering our past is important to our present and future experience with God. It builds within us faith, trust, and hope.

We humans tend to forget how God takes care of us. He knows our forgetful ways. Perhaps that’s why He said, “remember” to remind us of the Sabbath day.

God presented us 10 polished stones in the form of His sacred commands. One is especially shiny: The Sabbath command. He wants us to be ready with an answer when asked, “What Mean These Stones?”

When I answer about my stones, I’ve found that I can tie in God’s love. We don’t need to be theologians to say, “Jesus loves you,” and be reminded about heaven’s 12 pillared-gates made from precious stones. He wants us to walk through those gates to experience eternity with Him.