One by one, I picked up the stones. I held each one, examining it for all of its unique characteristics. What did this stone tell me about its Creator? What did this stone tell me about the journey it had taken? Were the edges rough, were they smooth, were there cracks, were there marks?
Then after examining, each stone, one at a time, I’d set them down just beyond the edge of the water. Four stones and then four more on top of those and four more on top of those and then four more and then four more and then…Stacked.
Here is my altar.
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.”
So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.
I’m building an altar. Not an altar to myself. An altar to God.
I’m steps away from the finish line of writing the first draft of my memoir. Each chapter is like a stone. I pick it up — journeying back through journals and conversations and circumstances. I remember what it was like to be in the middle.
Sometimes it is painful holding a certain stone. The tears fall as I hold it, blurring my vision as I try to paint pictures with words as to what those moments were like.
Sometimes holding a stone causes my heart to swell and I’m reminded of my Creator and His great love for me. He often comes in to save the day, but not as a superhero who is unfamiliar, but as the Lover of my soul. Someone I’ve known since I was a child. His voice hasn’t changed through the years, but the ways I have recognized it have.
Sometimes in holding a stone, I see the rough places in my heart that have been changed and how He has smoothed them. I’m a different person. This journey has changed me. He has changed me.
How have the stones you’re holding changed you? Will you build an altar?