Last week I talked about my “great cloud of witnesses” that surround my life. I sometimes think when I contemplate on something that the Lord has impressed upon my heart...He then makes sure I “reflect” on it a little longer. He reinforces the thought with other “lessons” He wants me to know and hear.
Tuesday night our small group discussed “Standing Stones”. We learned that long before the Children of Israel entered the promised land the inhabitants erected sacred stones to honor their gods or to honor important events that could only be explained by the supernatural.
The Hebrew word translated “standing stones” is massebah and it means “to set up.” The Israelites also began the practice of erecting standing stones to honor their covenant with God, and as a reminder of God’s supernatural acts on their behalf.
Today, at a place called Tel Gezer, (which is midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) there are ten stones that were erected in tribute to a long-forgotten event. The stones cannot speak, and there are no living witnesses to give meaning to what happened there in those ancient times.
In the New Testament, Peter describes us (as believers) to be “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Although he goes on to compare believers to stones that are shaped and cut by builders, Peter knew his readers would know of the “massebah’s” and they would think of themselves as living standing stones as well.
Our group discussion also touched on the fact that God placed the children of Israel at the crossroads of the world because He wanted His people to influence their culture. He wanted them to become the living “standing stones” as a testimony of His love, His power, and His provisions for His people.
But the Israelites failed miserably to be God’s witnesses in their culture.
What about us? What about me? What about my sphere of influence? Am I ineffective? Am I silent? Do I fail to explain why I’m different?
God calls us to live so publicly that we influence and shape those around us. He wants us to be “standing stones” that are able to testify to the amazing things God has done for us!
This, again, causes me to think of that “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before me. I think specifically of a paint salesman, Herman Balka, who continually witnessed to my Dad, even though my dad rejected and ridiculed him.
God gave Herman his specific sphere of influence and called him to show others that “the Lord is God." Herman lived his life so that others would see God in his life and would be drawn to seek “his God". Herman didn’t give up...each week he made his sales call to not only sell paint, but I think more importantly, he came to “offer” another lifestyle to my Dad. To show my father what he could have if he gave up "his way" of doing life. (Which I don't believe was working too well!)
Thankfully, my Dad accepted Herman's “offer.” His acceptance of that “free gift” led to a new life for my Dad and his “new life” eventually lead to a new trajectory of my life.
I think of Herman as being part of my cloud of witnesses. I can look back and see his "stone" standing in testimony of a story I CAN tell. His story is a reminder of God’s supernatural acts on my behalf.
Herman faithfully obeyed God, and became a “standing stone” to all the nonbelievers in his life. Many others noticed that his life was different and accepted his "offer" of a changed life. Herman made a choice to trust in God’s power to transform not only his customers but also his culture.
Which choice will I make? How about you?