Joshua called for the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one man per tribe. Joshua said to them, “Cross over into the middle of the Jordan, up to the Lord your God’s chest. Each of you, lift up a stone on his shoulder to match the number of the tribes of the Israelites. This will be a symbol among you. In the future your children may ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them.
Lately, as my kids have gotten into elementary school, I get to share more of the things I enjoyed as a child with them. This fall, we read Anne of Green Gables together at bedtime. At Christmas, we made buckeyes together. Last week, we watched Lilo and Stitch. As a parent, sharing those things I loved with my kids is really special– it feels like what I loved as a kid gets to live on as they enjoy it.
There’s a story like this in the book of Joshua. Right as the Israelites were entering the promised land, after their long journey through the wilderness, Joshua realized that this was an important moment, a story that would need to be shared with future generations. In order to commemorate this experience, Joshua and a representative of each tribe built a monument of stones. Joshua told the people that this symbol was erected in order to help families tell the story of God bringing them from slavery into the promised land of freedom. The stones were a reminder. The story was the important thing.
When it comes to sharing what’s important to us with kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews, it’s a lot easier than we tend to think. So many Christian adults I know are afraid to talk about faith with kids (or, even scarier, other adults!), usually because they worry they’ll get it wrong somehow. Sharing the good news about Jesus isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require an advanced degree. It’s as easy as reading a favorite story to a child. If you can read a favorite book or watch a beloved movie with a kid, you can share what matters to you about being a follower of Jesus.
The one thing that it does require is an answer to the question: what does this mean to you? That’s what Joshua asked the Israelites to ponder, so that they would be ready to tell about how God had delivered their ancestors from slavery and brought them to a home of their own.
How would you answer the question: what does this mean to you? What does Jesus mean to you? What does discipleship mean to you? Whatever your answer is, it’s worth sharing your story with the people in your life, so that what you love doesn’t stop with you.