This morning I asked God about my heart’s desire to write and speak as a Christian woman. There has been a desire since I was a young woman to be a writer and illustrator. Many times ideas come to my heart and mind and it is like it burns inside me to share the truths of God as applied to real life today. Through the years, God has given me opportunity to hear and to be trained in the depths of God’s Word. The Old Testament is fascinating and it is where, seemingly, I am ministered to in multiple ways. Seems strange that something as old and ancient would grab my attention and imagination, but it does. Even in ordinary events of a day, there are truths learned from this ancient book of God, that seem like a perfect tool to sort out the complicated, the confused, and the confounded issues of life in the present.
Does God hear me and actually address what is inside my heart? Can He actually communicate with me and move in a moment’s notice? Can He take what has been brewing for many years and within milliseconds start putting together pieces and show me what it might look like? Well, I believe this morning He did just that! Why would He be willing to take a chance on using me? I don’t have the foggiest idea in my natural mind, but in what I’ve learned as His child, I know without a doubt, that that is exactly what He has done since the moment He started this world of relationships with His created ones. This is just a little example of how He takes His children, His people, and He designs us for a purpose to connect us to His own heart. He wants to envelope us with the depths and riches of knowing and worshipping Him.
So, where did the “stacked stones” come from? In the Old Testament of the Bible, Moses and Joshua were leaders of the Israelites; they had been under the tyrannical rule of the Egyptian pharaoh. They were God’s chosen people from among the peoples of the world. In fact, they had started out as people God wanted to use to demonstrate His amazing love and connection by showing His purity, His authentic character, His goodness to outsiders who were worshipping and serving the created images of man’s minds and hands; pagan gods. So He placed His people in Egypt where the idolatry of man was in full bloom. But, like us, their nature of wanting what they wanted at the expense of loving God, happened. God no longer was the One who was their focus, but themselves. Ultimately, instead of being the instruments of God’s heart, they became the objects of man’s vanity; they became enslaved.
When enslavement occurs, it is like all of a sudden the realization that truth, happiness, and fulfillment have been lost without any chance of getting it back! You are trapped. You no longer can choose. You no longer have the power to pick or decide how you will live life. You have been swallowed up in something that seems beyond your control. You are the object of another’s power! Guess what they did. His people began to cry for His intervention. They now turned back to Him to deliver them out of the deep hole they had willingly jumped into at their own peril. Would He listen? Would He care after they had turned and rejected all the wondrous desires He had for them? You know the answer. Almost instinctively, you know that God is the ultimate Hero. It is known as grace. Yes, He heard their cries for deliverance and brought them out of bondage. That, without a doubt, is the very heart of God for all of His creation! That concept is the centerpiece of eternal life. It is the crux of His relationship with us. He is perfect, holy, complete, without malice or evil intentions, but we are enslaved to ourselves, our passions, our appetites for our own way; we are enslaved to sin.
This mess of being condemned to a life of death, through slavery, was not the end of the story. God came to the rescue of the Israelites. He provided a way of escape in one of the most notable events of human history. Moses told the people of God’s great escape plan. God had provided multiple opportunities for even the pagan Egyptian Pharaoh and his people to come face to face with His judging power over their evil lifestyles of idolatry, by pouring plagues upon them if they continued to oppose Him. Over and over, Pharaoh ignored the truth and would not humble himself to relinquish himself to God’s sovereign rule. So, God intervened. The last plague destroyed the self-will of Pharaoh when the first born son of every Egyptian was struck down in death during the night. The cost of disobedience, rebellion, and rejection is always death. No getting around it. God told His people what was going to happen, as well, so they could be spared the anguish of this judgment. He told them to pack, eat a special meal He designed, get dressed and be ready to move when the word came. He told them to cover the tops and sides of each home’s doorway with the blood of an unblemished or perfectly spotless lamb, and during the night when God’s angel of death passed over the houses where the blood had been placed, their first born sons would be spared.
It did happen. God did exactly as He explained. The cries of despair and absolute terror pierced the hearts of the Egyptians and the Pharaoh during the dark of night. Sin separates us from God. Its results will crush our hearts and lives if we reject God’s plan for rescue. We will die in darkness with no chance of reversing our choice. It is not because God is being mean or cruel. It is because the determination to do our own will at the expense of God’s provision, given in love and generosity, is ignored, denied, and refused. Judgment comes to everyone who determines to live outside of God’s design for relationship. We choose! So, early in the morning hours of light, the Israelites moved out of the place of bondage into freedom. They left in droves after years of sorrow, heartache, poverty, pain, and injustice. They now were ready for a whole new life.
God had multiplied the people and, amazingly, even their possessions, to take them away from Egypt to deliver them to a land promised to their forefathers. They were going to escape right in front of their captors. Pharaoh wanted them gone for good, at least, in the aftermath of the night’s destruction of their families. The Israelites got far out into the desert, away from Pharaoh’s control and leverage, when they heard the rumble of horses’ hooves. The power and energy of a huge enemy, angered by the victory of their slaves’ exit, generated such a vibration that even now we can almost feel the shaking of the earth in fury! The Egyptians wanted them back as slaves and were coming after them. As the mighty army came charging to retrieve their slaves, Moses and the mass of Israelite people found themselves facing the Red Sea as an opposing wall that they were now up against. God instructed Moses to lift his staff at the water’s edge, and God would clear the way for them to pass through the sea on dry ground. In obedience, once again, Moses did as God commanded. The waters mounded high behind invisible walls to make a huge, dry pathway for thousands upon thousands of people, along with their possessions and animals, so they could get across before Pharaoh’s army captured them and claimed them for return to slavery. This enormous surge of people viewed the massive walls of water, standing at attention, as they passed along the corridor to freedom. Can you imagine such a sight? My heart would have been beating wildly while viewing an impressive image of such a magnificent miracle over nature and my unnerving situation! The God of the Universe, the One true and living God was their benefactor as He ushered them to safety on the other side of the sea as the enemy rushed towards them.
As the last Israelites stepped foot on the other side and all were safely across, Moses called for twelve leaders, one from each of the 12 family tribes or clans, to go and gather a large stone from the sea’s dry path, and bring it back to shore where they now stood. The stones were brought to be stacked or heaped upon each other to be used to build an altar, a stone monument, erected to honor and to celebrate God and His personal intervention for their salvation from the enemy. This altar or monument would be a place where they could point to and remind their children and future generations of God’s provision for them. His might and power to love, provide and protect could be trusted in the midst of terrifying circumstances. It would testify to His greatness in their lives. They dedicated these “stacked stones” to Him as a tribute of their reverence for Him. He alone was able to save and to keep them just as He is able to save and keep us for eternity!
What about the ensuing army? They saw the open path through the Red Sea and rushed headlong in pursuit of what they wanted…the Israelite slaves. Led by Pharaoh himself, the entire army, was annihilated as the mighty walls of water came crashing down upon them. With a fell swoop of God’s invisible staff of judgment, the walls that had been erected to protect His children would now come down to provide destruction upon their enemy. It was finished! The enemy was vanquished. They were free to pursue that which God had promised to them.
The journey of these people continued, but the purpose of the “stacked stones” remains. I can relate to this event in many ways, although, seemingly less dramatic to the world around me. On the outside, no one knew of my enslavement to sin and the desires of my heart to do my own will, to do that which bound me to a life that was lost to true fulfillment, joy, peace or contentment. It was a life that was void of power and purpose that was good. I hungered for something much more than what I was experiencing. That which was empty in my soul cried out for someone to fill with the eternal. God heard my cries as He heard the cries of His people enslaved in Egypt. He came to my rescue by bringing me to a place where I heard that His Deliverer was none other than His own Son, Jesus Christ. The enemy that pursued me had already been conquered when Jesus, the perfect Lamb, put His blood on the doorposts of my heart so that I would not be slain in the night of eternity if I would only take Him as my own sacrifice for sin. I trusted Him as my Deliverer, and the walls of separation came crashing down between me and God. The foe of eternal death was dashed. I now stand on solid ground in the land promised to me, the land of abundant and eternal life found in my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today, I am taking the many stones of God’s goodness that He has demonstrated through the years of my life as a free person, and I am stacking them here as a monument to all He has done. I would love to bring as many people to my “stacked stones” so I can tell them about the Mighty Conqueror and how He still delivers the enslaved to a freedom that only eternity will be big enough to hold.
Today, I am staking my place. I would like to use my writing, art, and communication skills to build a ministry as an altar to testify to God’s amazing and personal involvement in my life and the lives of others through the truths of His Word. It needs to be a monument that will encourage those who do not know Him as Savior, to meet Him and make Him their own. Also, it will stand as an example to Christians of how to “stack stones” to build their own altars of testimony of God’s faithfulness to them.
Today, I offer my “Stacked Stones” to the honor and glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. May this altar be a place of worship to Him!
Romans 12: 1-2 KJV
“I beseech you, therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”