how necessary are touchstones in everyday life, they are markers, particular places and familiar faces that let us know where we are in this world – like the alters Abraham and others would build to commemorate special places where they had encounters with God – touchstones serve to orient me in my daily life and how grateful I am for each and everyone of them. As I sat in church today, surrounded by touchstones, I gave thanks for each one of them. Each stone tells a testimony uniquely their own, all to the glory of God. And I am encouraged and inspired to continue on my own journey each time I have the opportunity to touch base with, to encounter, one of these precious stones.
Miss Felicia, a pillar at 94 years of age despite her very diminutive size, (pillars are typically large in size) is in her place in the pew, (back row, on the aisle) as is Miss Bonnie (down front, opposite side, on the aisle). Daniel is at the door, his post as doorkeeper and greeter. David with the tall mohawk, is serving communion, a comforting and familiar presence – not to be confused with chef David who feeds our bodies (along with Miss Peggy) even as our pastors feed our souls with God’s word. When a melodic “hallelujah!” rings out during the sermon, I know that Micca is in the house this morning. A hug and an “I love you” from my soul sister, Deborah, provide another much needed touchstone for the morning.
Brenda and William are in their place as is Bernard, a faithful presence in the pew each Sunday. (and sometimes in the center aisle when we are singing songs of praise) I confess – there are touchstones I miss this morning. When their customary places in the pew are empty, there is a void that is theirs alone to fill. I am missing Miss Hattie, Miss Angela, Miss Kim and Miss Caroline. Even with pews full of people, the spaces their presence filled remain empty in their absence. Brother Lessie’s place as greeter and seater is waiting for his return as well. We are all parts of the same body, the body of Christ, which is the church. 1 Peter 2:4-5 puts it this way,
“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
We are all living stones! What a word picture! God takes something not alive (a stone/me/you) and brings it/us to life.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. . . . But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Living touchstones – each one with a testimony to God’s goodness and grace. Individually and together, God is building us into something beautiful for His purposes. I am home when I am with my touchstones, protected and encouraged to keep growing into all God has purposed that we should be individually and as His body in this world.
The power of a touchstone is in its presence – its presence in the pew and in the world – that visible presence filled with the power of their testimony – a testimony to God’s rescue and redemption of their lives – God’s transformation of each and everyone of us from death to life – touchstones are living testimonies to God. When I see that mohawk in the pew, my heart is lifted by being reminded of the testimony of that particular living stone. Touchstones have powerful testimonies. Their presence among us reassures us that God is able to do all things, even as we behold what He has already done in them. Touchstones are testimonies of hope.
In the book of Joshua we read a story about twelve stones that became touchstones for the nation of Israel. The account of this is found in Joshua chapter four –
“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, ‘Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.’ ” (Joshua 4:4-7)
“And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’ ” (Joshua 4:20-24)
These twelve stones were to be a memorial forever, they were to be a testimony to all the peoples of the earth. Touchstones to God’s goodness and greatness. Joshua 4:9 says,
“Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.”
thank You, Heavenly Father, for each and every touchstone complete with testimony along my path, – thank You for placing them there just when You know I need them,
sincerely, Grace Day