Most every man I’ve known has played with rocks during his childhood. I’m guessing you did too. Maybe it’s the whole made-from-the-dust-of-the ground thing that is inherent in the male population to draw them to the earth. Who knows?!
And even though you probably know more about rocks than I do and don’t need a geology lesson, I’ll still continue by stating the obvious. Here are some things that can be done with rocks. You can:
1. Throw them. (Of course this is the number one answer I hear from men when I ask them this question.)
2. Skip them (across water).
3. Construct something with them.
But the thing that usually isn’t mentioned is:
4. Build something, namely a monument.
Let me tell you the prompt for this last action step. It actually comes from a story in the Bible from when God led His people (Israelites) to cross the Jordan River as He held back the water until all of them passed through the riverbed. Let’s pick up the story with their leader Joshua giving instructions to the men:
“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 4:5-7)
First off, these dads are holding rocks on their shoulders and carrying them to the other side of the river in order to build something that will stand as a forever memorial. These fathers and their children had to have been walking side by side and interacting throughout the process. Seems like a great fathering model, don’t you think?
And secondly, these fathers were instructed to tell their kids the story for years to come of the miracle that happened. And because we all know that kids love to ask questions, there is no doubt that this story was told repeatedly…by dad.
As we can see, the rocks served as a reminder of the story that accompanied them. And this gave me an idea for a way to bring this idea into the twenty-first century.
Dad, what if you started a tradition where every time God did a big miracle in your family—like unexpectedly providing money to pay a huge bill or healing someone in a powerful way or answering a specific prayer or observing a milestone in your children’s lives—you took your kids to a quarry or a Home Improvement Store (like Home Depot or Lowe’s) and together you all picked out a sizable stone to commemorate the event?
Then, just like these dads did centuries ago, you can build and tell simultaneously.
And through it all, dad, you are the one leading the experience, just like the Israelite men of the Old Testament.
So instead of just skipping and throwing rocks with your kids, why not let the rocks tell the story as together you build with those rocks while telling your kids the story of God’s faithfulness again and again.
And now to close with the cheesiest ending ever, yet one I just can’t resist: Dads who invite their children to respond to God alongside them ROCK!
(Excerpt adapted from my book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart, chapter 43).