We have come this far by FAITH
And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: “Take for yourselves 12 men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves 12 stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the 12 men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever. — Joshua 4:1
And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up 12 stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up 12 stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant stood; and they are there to this day.
When scholars speak about the journey of faith, they underscore the human need to embrace things that sometimes transcend the physical. Everyone that walks by faith soon concludes that much of life transcends the material or the natural.
Our history is rich with evidence of the power of faith. We can list a number of Bahamian patriots like the late Reverend H.W. Brown, Rev. R.E. Cooper Sr., Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson, Sir Clement Maynard, Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield, Sir Lynden Pindling and living legends like Arthur Hanna, Loftus Roker, Sir Arthur Foulkes, Sir Orville Turnquest and many others. They led us on this walk of faith toward an emancipated and independent Bahamas. They lifted their faith and envisioned a better Bahamas emancipated from segregation and colonial dictates. Their vision was to fight to abolish social, political and economic inequalities. They were warriors for social justice.
The desire to do what is just, right, and fair has no color, nationality, or gender when governed by the laws of God; over these 45 years the culture of peace and prosperity is being disrupted by the tentacles of moral and social decay.
Slavery, segregation, and colonial rule have reappeared under new labels — namely economic slavery, the widening gap between the haves and the have nots and international pressures for conformity. We have to reconnect as a country to our abiding faith in God. I would rather walk with God than bow down to the dictates of man. Past leaders of our Commonwealth were men and women who walked by faith and not by sight. They sought to be innovative and progressive depending on the ingenuity of the Bahamian people rather than being degrading and regressive. We cannot tax our way into a better tomorrow; we must innovate and elevate our natural resources and people.
Technology drives our society and our behavior today. Every sector is affected by the rapid and tremendous changes driven by technology. The Bahamas has declared its commitment to open the country to international investments in the crypto currency and block chain areas. The conference in Freeport, Grand Bahama, in June was an example of how the country can lead in progressive innovation. We must innovate in ways that are progressive and not oppressive to the poor and middle class who can ill afford it. These are the very people that are needed to build this country. We cannot destroy the middle class and expect for our country to thrive, Bahamas. We have come too far to turn back now. Forward, upward and onward is our only option if we are to excel as a nation.
There are important events in all our lives that we should mark. Might not be with physical stones, but we mark them never the less.
The stones in the river
They were passing through the waters of Jordan, Joshua himself goes down into the river and leads in forming two memorials — one underwater hidden from the eyes of men. From an engineering perspective these stones would act like a wave-breaker in the time of storms. Thank God for constant or stable stones, a stable government, a stable civil society and a stable and not parasitic Christian church.
Joshua setting up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan is also emblematic of some things we should have left in the water. We should have left in the waters of Jordan a country forming its identity by the dictates of others. It’s a sad day when I ask today what is our culture and many struggle to define it 45 years later. We should have left in the water a country divided by politics, color, or economics. We should have left in the water the colonial system that causes our elected members of parliament to be fired for representing the very people that sent them there.
When all the people had crossed the Jordan safely God spoke to Joshua with instructions about the memorial they were to make on the other side. Joshua then told each of the 12 men to carry his stone on his shoulder and cross to the west side of the river ahead of the priests with the ark. The water remained held back so long as the priests and the ark stayed in the river, so the men had to get the stones and carry them to land before the priests left the river; the stones would be a memorial sign to future generations to remember the crossing of the river. When future generations asked about the stones, the people would explain how the waters of the river were cut off so the ark (and the people) were enabled to cross over on dry ground. The stones were to be a memorial to the people forever that God had held back the river.
The stones would bring back to remembrance what God has done. The stone was set up for the people to brag on the Lord. The word remember means to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again: to be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past.
The stones on the bank stood as a sign of the presence of God in the past, the need of God in the present and the pursuit of God in the future.
Remember where he has brought us from, he has brought us a mighty long way, from a sleeping village to a tourism mecca, he’s brought us a mighty long way.
Do you remember? I remember from shilling and pence to dollars and cents; he’s brought us a mighty long way.
Do you remember? I remember from the outhouse to the in house; he’s brought us a mighty long way.
Though we have come a mighty long way, do not for a moment think that we have arrived. There are many rivers left to cross and many mountains left to climb in the development of this archipelagic nation. The faith that has brought us this far is the same faith that we need right now.
In the words of James Johnson who wrote that song know as the negro national anthem.
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand, True to our God, true to our native land. Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of liberty; Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, Let us march on till victory is won.”