30 Nov “Standing Stones” by Stephen Hutchins
Do you have a “standing stone” for your life? In the Bible, we often read of God’s people erecting stone monuments to commemorate events of spiritual significance. In Genesis 28 we find Jacob having his dream of the angels on the ladder, in which God confirms the Abrahamic Covenant to him. When he awakes, he erects a stone to mark the place where he met with God. In Exodus 24 we learn that Moses set up 12 stones at the foot of Mt. Sinai to indicate where God covenanted with His people. Then in Joshua 4 we see God’s people setting up stones at the spot where they had crossed the Jordan River.
Sometimes they would do this in obedience to God’s instruction and other times it seemed spontaneous. But why would they do this? I believe that they, like us, had a propensity to forget and these aforementioned examples provided a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness to them and of moments of spiritually significant encounters with Him.
I stumbled upon a “standing stone” of sorts several years ago while walking up on the East Side of Providence. Actually, just a stone’s throw off of Thayer St., 168 Lloyd Ave. to be exact, I came upon a house with a plaque on it, in memory of Adoniram Judson who attended Brown University in the early 1800’s.
Although the name Adoniram Judson may be unfamiliar to you, he’s actually one of the spiritual giants of the Christian church in American history. He was essentially the first Christian missionary to what we now know as Myanmar (Burma). He endured great hardship there eventually burying his wife and several of his children while also experiencing multiple harsh imprisonments. Still, by the time of his death, he had translated the Bible into Burmese and left behind over 8,000 believers and 100 churches. And to think he was educated at our own Brown University, which some perceive as the epicenter of secular humanism and hostility to the gospel message in Rhode Island. Adonirum Judson might not recognize the place today but, in his time, it was a place of preparation for God’s call on his life. Today, we find a “standing stone” in its shadow, a reminder of what God can do through someone who’s committed to Him.
So the next time you’re up on Thayer St. catching a bite to eat, browsing the gift shops and bookstores, or catching a movie at the Avon with some of your hipster friends, take a walk up to Lloyd St. and check out this modern “standing stone.” Maybe it’d be a good place to reflect on some of the spiritual high points in your own life as you contemplate where God might want to take you in the future. While you’re there, pray for our state; that this place would experience a spiritual revival that would not only be transformative of the culture around here, but would produce more spiritual giants like Adonirum Judson.