The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the phase “Draw a line in the Sand” to around the 1950’s. Now there are a handful of theory’s about where this phrase comes from but my own personal theory is that it comes from WWI. I see this phrase as a reference to the trenches, those lines in the dirt that marked the battle lines. A desperate fortification that the defenders dare not lose and a bold challenge for the attackers to take. A fortification, that once won, must be held at all costs. It actually makes me think of Cpt Picard in First Contact.
We’ve made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!
There are plenty of other examples of this. “Burn the ships!” jumps to mind. But the one I really want to talk about doesn’t initially inspire that same “I’ll die on this hill” kind of mentality at first. Please keep in mind that this is a personal reflection and interpretation not exegesis.
And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” ~ Joshua 4:5-7
The memory stones were installed as a memorial where the Israelites first took steps on the promise land after crossing the Jordan. We all have a “jordan” to cross and we all have a promise to enter into, the question is – once we enter into the promise, do we plant a flag? Do we raise a memorial? Not just to say “this is where and when it happened,” but because it is naive to think that just because we got this far we are now somehow immune to trail or trouble. Look at the Isarelities – they made it to the promise land, but they still had to fight to stay there!
The memorial in this case isn’t just a pretty monument we can talk to our kids about, but also a physical reminder for our selves. It reminds us of everything that God has done for us to get us this far. it reminds us of 40 years in the wilderness when we saw manna fall from heaven and were led by a pillar of smoke by day and a column of fire by night. We can take strength from the memory and call on God saying “You delivered us in the wilderness, deliver us now!”
It is an anchor we can grab onto when things get tough, it is a line in the sand beyond which we will not retreat. it’s the place where we can dig in our heels, duck our heads down in trenches and just hold on while we catch our breath or wait for our Father to send in reinforcements so we can storm ahead.
It is where we stand and resist the enemy, that he might flee before us.