The hope of rocks

basket of rocks[3] I recently was talking with a friend of mine. I was trying to explain, how Jesus worked on my heart even while I was sinning. How he brought me closer to Him and helped me to become free from sin by working on my heart through my sin. Does that make sense? It didn’t make any sense to my friend. As Christians, we want to hold onto the thought that Jesus only blesses us when we are sin free. That he withholds his blessing when we are holding onto sin. But that just isn’t true. We want to believe that He chooses not to heal our deepest wounds, the wounds that are leading us to sin, because we are sinning. That is not true either. So much healing can come to us while we are still sinning! What an incredibly radical thought! What a radical Jesus we serve.

You see, He doesn’t leave us in the pit of our sin. He goes there with us. He experiences the hurt, pain and loss that leads us into that pit and He knows how to get us out. He, and only He knows what we need to hear. Only He knows what needs to be done to save our hearts, so It doesn’t make sense to think that healing only happens after we are healed. Yet, that is exactly what we are saying when we think that Jesus doesn’t heal us while we are still holding onto our sin.

Sin is a process not a destination. Most of the time we don’t wake up one day and just decide to be horrible, sinful and turn our backs on God. Usually, it’s a slow walk down a long path that leads to an unknown place. You are doing your best.You are keeping our eye out for evil. All of a sudden,You trip over a rock and fall down. You become angry at yourself. “Why didn’t I see that stupid rock? I am so blind, how did I miss it and fall?” So you get up, brush off and  vow to keep better watch. You  will never trip over another rock again. So, you watch vigilantly and, for the most part you are pretty successful in missing them. Occasionally you might trip on one but you don’t fall all the way to the ground.

When, all of a sudden, you feel our body falling through the air! “HUMPH” the breath is knocked out of you as you hit the bottom. The bottom of what?. It is dark, its cold, and you feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness, as you realize that you have fallen into a pit.

You try to look around, squinting your eyes but you can’t see anything. You reach out your hand and start to feel your surroundings, hoping to get an idea of what situation you have found yourself in. Your hands grope all around you. You feel something, hard, cold, jagged and your heart sinks. You have found yourself in a pit with rocks. These rocks all feel so familiar to you.  These are the rocks that you worked so hard to avoid, ignore, jump over and miss while you were on the trail. Realization dawns as you recognize them. They surround you, now. Some of them are warm and covered in soft moss while others are hard, jagged and very cold. All of the rocks offer you some level of comfort and thankfully, they also offer you a good way to get out of the pit.

At first, in fear of what you don’t understand, you fight. You start to throw as many as you can away from you but they bounce back at you and hit you. Even the moss-covered rocks seem to lose their softness when they strike you. You scream at them! “STOP, LEAVE ME ALONE. I DONT WANT TO BE HERE WITH YOU” and they mock you with their silence. Finely, exhausted and discouraged you give up. You decide that if these rocks are going to be with you forever then you might as well embrace them, accept them, maybe even love them.

After a while, you become really accustomed to your rock companions. They begin to feel like friends to you. You talk to them. Telling them your desires, your dreams, your hopes. You sleep with them and you accept their rough edges as a necessary part of your life. Sure, every so often they poke you in the middle of the night and you wake up tired, cranky and unhappy. But you can’t get rid of them. Those rocks are with you forever, so you might as well start using them.

One day, you decide to use those rocks to get out of the pit. You are so tired of being cold and lonely. You begin to pile them, one by one on top of each other. How proud you feel that you are using these rocks for good. Happily you climb those rocks, hugging the pile close to your body so you wont lose your grip. Daily, closer and closer you get to the opening of the pit. As last, one day you are just a few feet away. Your heart is pounding in your ears. You can feel the sunshine on your head. Hope, swells up inside of you as you reach up toward success.

Suddenly, your hand loses its grip and you feel your body falling through the air. “WHAM”, your breath leaves your body as you hit  the bottom of the pit. You cover your head and curl into a ball as the rocks pile down on top of you, burying you under their weight.

Your ears register the silence when at last the rocks stop falling. You hesitantly open your eyes and  strangely, you are laying with the rocks surrounding you. You are bruised and sore and very angry!   Tears fall down your cheeks. Discouragement wraps its arms tightly around your chest. You swear, you’ll will never try that again. You feel doomed to stay in the bottom of your pit with only the company of your rocks. Self pity over takes you. All your hope is gone.

While sitting in your sorrow, you pick up one rock that has been very close to you. This rock always pinches you a little bit but you find that the closer you keep it the less it hurts you. This rock has always been there for ready. Ready at a moments notice if needed. A voice echoes suddenly, reverberating off the sides of the pit. You pull the rock toward your body ready to use it to protect yourself. “Put it down”

“Put it down?” you ask “I can’t put this down. This the only thing I have to protect me!”

“Put it down” urges the voice “I will protect you”.

“You will protect me? Who are you?”

“I am your protector”

You look at the rock, remembering everything you had been through with it. This was the last rock on your pile. The rock that was going to catapult you into freedom from the pit. It comforted you for a time but then it turned on you and threw you back into the darkness. You’ve dealt with this rock before and part of you feels very afraid of it. You know that this rock has the ability to hurt you if you don’t keep it close.

“Put it down” the voice softly encourages you.

Slowly, you open your hands and let the rock fall from your grasp. You wait for something horrible to happen but nothing does.  Instead, you see a  small ray of color lighten the darkness of the pit. You step toward the color light wanting to feel its warmth. In your hand you feel a small stone. Its white and on it is written a new name that gives you a little bit of joy and hope.

The next day, you pick up another rock. This one  is less pointy, less hurtful and not nearly as heavy as yesterdays rock was. You like this rock. You hold it and stroke it. You enjoy the familiar comfort of the rock as you go about beginning to build another pile. Busily, you stack your rocks one by one on top of each other but you always hold onto that one soft rock. After awhile you become tired and decide to go stand in the ray of color light. You step into the ray. Shocked, you look down with open eyes at your rock as it strips away its soft mossy cover and turns quickly into a black ugly, hard, jagged stone.

“Put it down” the voice says again

Without hesitation you throw that rock far away from you. Looking up with tears of betrayal running down your face another color light pierces the darkness.

“I will comfort you” says the voice as you step into the new color light and grieve the loss of your comforting rock.

One by one, as the days pass you hear the voice asking you to put down your rocks. One by one, you put down the rocks that have given you so much courage, strength, power and love. Every time you choose to put down your rock, a new color light shines through the darkness and a new light, white stone is placed in your hand with a name, redefining exactly what you had been so afraid to let go of.

At times, though, there is a rock that you just cannot seem to let go of. A rock that is so important to you that you cling to it. You have such a deep need for it. You are afraid that if you let it go you will die.  The voice, gently leads you to go back in your memory to when that rock became so vital to you. And lovingly, the voice helps you let it go, always offering the color light and name stone as a better replacement to hold onto.  Some rocks cause tears as you separate yourself from them. Some rocks you throw far away from you and you welcome the freedom from the pain they brought you. Every so often you pick up the same rock and with a little less struggle you put it down again.  But the voice is always ready to help you and the color light is always there to warm you, and a new name is always given to redefine who you are.

Soon, you begin to see what seems to be an opening on the wall of your pit. With each color light that shines the opening becomes clearer.  The voice seems to come from the opening but You hold back, remembering what happened the time you tried to escape the pit. As you watch the opening become clearer and clearer the lights become brighter and brighter, In your hand the voice places a white stone. Smooth and soft and light, On the stone is written the name that defines the essence of You. A combination of all the other names you have been given is written on this stone. A special name just given to you by the voice. This is the only stone that matters. The only stone that speaks the truth about you. The only stone you will ever need to hold onto. You need the light. You need to get out of the pit. You need freedom. Your very soul longs for it. Your skin aches to feel complete light again.

The voice calls to you “Come to me”

You look around you. Instead of rocks all you can see is the color light bouncing around you. Playing with your hair and singing above your head. Instead of pity, sadness and devastation you feel hope, joy and best of all, You feel love.

Gradually, you walk toward the opening and toward the voice. You reach out your hand and you grasp the hand of your protector. Amazingly, Light overwhelms your body. Warmth, touches every follicle on your skin. Fresh air fills your lungs and you drink in the taste of Freedom. . You look around, amazed at the peace you feel. Your eyes are a bit stunned by the brightness of the color lights that continue to swirl around you. Slowly, the picture before you becomes clear and you hear the voice again. “Take my hand. We will walk together”

You hesitate, not sure if its safe, but you know deep inside your soul that this is the same voice that was with you in the darkness of the pit. This is the same voice that helped you put down your rocks. This is the same voice that redefined who you are.  The same voice that never left you alone.  You lift your eyes and all the color lights swirl together into one beautiful, overwhelming shining face of love. With out any lingering doubt you know you will never put your hope in those rocks again because your hope is found in the solid stone foundation of the voice.

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