I am most definitely a visual person! Often, I have given beloved friends a silver chain with a sterling wrapped rock as a reminder of the truth you are about to read...
It was a Saturday afternoon. With blistering temperatures and high humidity, it was definitely the good ol’ summertime in Texas. I loaded my new silver GMC Envoy with a “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Chicken Casserole, cheesy potatoes, and a homemade chocolate meringue pie—all fresh from the oven. I arrived at a cozy and inviting home occupied by a young couple and their two small children. This outgoing and bubbly family had recently begun attending the same church where I regularly worship. As I pulled into their gravel driveway, two enthusiastic boys raced from the swing set and past the sand pile to peer through the chain link fence at me. Their animated greeting was followed by the gate swinging wide open to welcome me into their personal play area and then their home. After I briefly visited with the mom who was not feeling well, I once again made my way through the backyard to hop into my car. And what did I see? I saw two boys with mischievous grins and hands full of rocks. They were poised and ready to take aim at my brand new car—much to their dear mother’s embarrassment and accompanied by her gentle, but firm, reprimand to drop those rocks at once.
Pulling away from their home that afternoon, I chuckled that boys will indeed be boys. And I recalled my days as a youngster skipping rocks across my family’s stock tank. In living Technicolor, I quickly replayed countless visuals of playground scenes where I had been caught in the line of fire, as my peers hurled rocks from under the see saws and swings at one another. And yes, I remembered my days as a young mother...And in my mind’s eye, it seemed as though it were yesterday, when I had admonished my own children—“Kaleb... PaulaBeth... Do not put those rocks in your mouths! Children, don’t you dare throw rocks at your cousins... And Kaleb, do not even think about throwing that rock at your sister!” And yet, dear friends, the literal action of rock throwing takes on a whole new meaning as we begin to grow older. Soon the childish behavior of physically hurling masses of broken stones and mineral matter finds an equally disgusting replacement. We learn much too quickly in life to hurl emotional “rocks” at one another in the form of hurtful, demeaning, and inconsiderate words. And the sad reality is that this form of rock throwing often lasts a lifetime!
As a believer in the life changing power of a personal and daily walk with Christ, I am ever learning that our Lord is in the business of taking a negative and transforming it into a positive. And yes, my friend, He yearns to do that with rocks, too! And so, let me take you on a brief visual tour of my little home. On one shelf, a rock from the Holy Land sets. A wooden heart is attached to the bottom with the simple inscription “ROMANS 8:1.” And so, when I look at that rock, I recall that passage which states, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...” Yes, I am reminded that while others may throw emotional rocks my direction, my Lord does not. Atop my television, another small rock—this one from Poland—adorns a frame given to me by daughter upon returning from that country. The rock adorned frame contains a parchment with her wise words to me, “The ground that your feet cannot reach can be touched by your hands through prayer.” I could go on and on describing crosses embellished with rock fragments given to me by those I cherish, but the simple truth is this—not one of those rocks, or rock adorned items, was given to me with an arm cocked. Instead, they were positive uses of an age old weapon that through the centuries has much too often been used to inflict pain.
Lest you be tempted to accuse me of having rocks in my head, let me turn your attention to one of my favorite passages in Scripture about rocks and friendship. From the pages of the book of Exodus we find God’s chosen people trudging toward their land of promise. Through desert terrain, their journey takes them.
Thus far, their biggest enemy had been from within. Yes, their constant bickering about food and water threatened to destroy them. And then, fresh from the heels of God’s miraculous provision of water from you guessed it—a rock—they are met by a formidable army. Their God appointed leader, Moses, stood atop a hill, where the Children of Israel battled the army of the Amalekites. The battle raged until sunset and as long as ol’ Moses held his hands high into the air, Israel was on the winning side. But because the battle was long, the arms of Moses grew tired and began to droop. When that happened, the Amalekites began to show signs of overtaking the Israelites. And so it was that Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses—one on the left and one on the right. They held up his weakened arms. Oh,but dear friends, they did something else...They placed a very large rock underneath their leader and friend, so that he could sit and rest during the intense battle.
Yes, that is what we should do for one another! We should dare to go the distance with our friends. How often we will journey with others if their pain is shortlived. And yet, I believe God desires that we be marathoners—walking and running with those whose pain is ongoing. Instead of hurling emotional rocks of judgment and criticism, we can set a rock of comfort and encouragement underneath our brothers and sisters in Christ...And we can do that first and foremost through faithful intercession, followed by gentle counsel and tangible concern. The words I recently read are ringing in my ears... “Friendship isn’t about looking for gold and silver among the rocks of life... It is about seeing each other’s coal through the fire until diamonds are formed.” And that, dear ones, is how rock solid friendships are built!