“The LORD then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place has been called Gilgal to this day.” Joshua 5:9
The land belonged to the Israelites. God promised it to them and they simply needed to take it. But the Jordan river was an obstacle. So the priests carried the ark of God as they set foot in raging waters. And just as the Red Sea dried up years earlier, the Jordan River did the same. A miracle took place as the entire nation crossed the Jordan. Afterward 12 men were sent back to the middle of the river to take up 12 stones from among where the priests feet rested. Joshua commanded the people to set up the stones, standing stones, as a memorial to the day. And after crossing the river, the Israelites found themselves at a place called Gilgal, which means to roll. For that’s where God rolled away the disgrace of their past. The stones were a reminder. And so, Joshua commanded the people, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the LORD’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
Handwritten notes in my Bible show Gilgal to be “a place of worship, rest, no battle.” Basically, Gilgal is the place I find myself after crossing a raging river that once stood before me like an impenetrable wall. It’s where I find myself once I’ve given up the struggle, allowing God to fight for me. And it’s where I stand in awe and worship because of the might God displayed on my behalf. Gilgal is where I found myself at the end of January. For that’s when I realized I am forgiven. I accepted it and believed it. And that’s when the reproach of my past rolled away. In Gilgal. It was then, after crossing the raging river of my past, that I readied myself to move forward in order to possess the land God laid out before me. But first, a standing stone. Thus, the last blog written as a memorial to God’s activity in my life. It’s there so that when my children ask me, “What does this stone mean to you….” I can tell them.
And then, last week. A fiery dart or a fiery trial, I cannot say as I found myself facing a new stone. But unlike a standing stone, this one could cause me to stumble. See, I had just sent forth words as a memorial to God. I wanted everyone to know the works of His hand… how He dried up the raging rivers of my past as I crossed over to camp out at Gilgal. And yet, immediately after setting up that standing stone, I found sadness. For I learned a loved one pointed a finger at me for the very thing I had overcome. Unbeknownst to me, a scarlet “A” had been thrust upon my chest. But unlike Hawthorne’s red letter, which stands for adultery, my “A” represents abortion. And I wasn’t even there to defend myself when words were spoken against me. I couldn’t open my mouth in defense for I hadn’t a clue as to what had been said months earlier. And this hurts because it was a loved one who spewed out the ugliness about my past to another loved one. But it wasn’t to build me up. No, it was meant to make me less. The very thing I overcame, my past, was used against me to cast a negative light in my direction. And so, a woman I deeply care for heard something about me from another woman’s quick lips. And last week, it felt as if a rock were thrown at me. A stone was cast in my direction.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:3-11
Today, I find myself at a fork in the road for a decision has to be made. See, in his wisdom, King Solomon said there’s a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones. And in reading his words, I know there’s a time for everything… a time for every purpose under heaven. And today, I need to know if it’s time. Is it time to hold the stone flung my way, or time to throw it out? And I can keep it if I want to. Oh, I can carry that rock as long as I want… even till it becomes so heavy that it bogs me down and I stall. In truth, that stone can easily push me back into the pit I so recently exited. It can roll right over top of me, if I allow it, sealing the door of my tomb. A rolling stone. Or, I can choose to let that stone roll right on by. Right now. Instead of gathering thrown stones of finger pointing and condemnation, I can gather the standing stones. Like the one I recently set up at Gilgal when my reproach was rolled away. I can choose to cling tightly to standing stones rather than trouble stones. The stumbling stones. The thrown stones. That’s my choice… to gather or to throw away stones.
In order to resume my journey with God today, I have to know how to navigate stones. For they lie all around me. And today, I choose to discard the stumbling stone that so recently rolled onto my path. Rather than trip over the rock that had my past written all over it, I lift my foot high and step right over it. One quick glance backward assures me I successfully made it past the hurdle. And so, once more, I cross what seemed impenetrable. And once more, my reproach rolls away from me. I move forward another step into the land of Gilgal. For I find myself at a place of worship. And a place or rest. No battle is necessary here. And so, once more I’m ready to carry on. It’s time to possess the land the lies before me… navigating stones along the way.
Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” Looking up, they observed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away. Mark 16:2-5