Each year, dates roll around that are significant for some reason. And if I forget one – like my anniversary – it becomes even more significant. I can forget my own birthday, but there are other people in my life that I really shouldn’t just blow by their important dates without a second thought: Monday was our anniversary and I didn’t forget it. Mary took me out for dinner. It was great! I had a birthday in June and I had a party! I rolled past my anniversary date for getting involved in full-time pastoral ministry and my anniversary for being pastor here at Cedar is coming up soon. My kids and grandkids have birthdays and a card – with cash is good – is important.
Stick with me now!
I have rocks in my yard. I’ve collected several little piles and it’s always a question what I should do with those pesky rocks when they just miraculously show up in the flower bed. So I threw some over there behind the lawn shed and some over here in the corner…no rhyme nor reason, just piles. That’s about to change.
You still with me?
1 – Jacob was on the run from his brother, Esau, and stopped to rest for the night. Why he chose a rock for his pillow is still a mystery to me, but that night, God visited him in a dream. When he woke up, he made a pile of rocks and proclaimed they represented the visitation of God in his life and vowed to return there to meet with God in the future(see Genesis 28:20-22).
2 – Moses instituted the feasts and rituals that have come to be known as Passover. “And so it will be in the time to come, when your children ask you, ‘What’s this all about?’ that you will say to them, ‘The Lord, in His great power and authority, has brought us out of our bondage, and this is the memorial to that deliverance’” (see Exodus 13:14).
3 – Joshua had the leaders of Israel carry rocks out of the Jordan River and pile them on the shore so that, at some point in the future, when the next generation would ask, “What does this pile of rocks mean?” they could tell them, “This is where the Lord brought us across the Jordan on dry ground” (see Joshua 4:4-7).
Finally, 4 – on a day in which God miraculously delivered Israel from a big battle, Samuel, the prophet and spiritual leader of Israel, set up a big stone and named it “Ebenezer” – which, in Hebrew, means ‘stone-of-help’ – because, “Up to this point, God has been our helper.”
I’ve already had a few important dates come through my calendar this year and a few significant ones yet to come, and I’ve been in a particularly celebratory mood this year, throwing “rocks” on my “pile” and remembering what God has done for me and my family and my church and our community.
I’m well aware that the world at large seems to be in a lot of turmoil. There are some really painful situations going on and they’re not all “way over there” – some folks in our little corner of the world are experiencing life-altering situations. And, within this maze of emotions, I still find that life holds some pretty amazing gifts . . . some of them just show up and some of them are carefully thought out and uncovered. So I’m throwing rocks on my pile to remind me that God really has been close to me for many years and, all things being equal and I decide to just stick close to him, I’m really satisfied that there are more gifts and blessings to be uncovered where the last ones showed up.
So, I’ll keep working in my yard, and digging in the flower beds – well, actually Mary will dig in the flower beds and then she’ll come get me when she finds that new rock and she’ll ask me to dig it out and dispose of it. So I’ll dig it out and haul it off and, instead of throwing it over there or piling it over here, I’m gonna go place it on my memorial pile. And I’m gonna smile and remember that God has been my helper up to this time and I have every reason to believe that he’ll be my helper tomorrow so I’ll just go ahead and keep trusting him. With as much fun as I have in my life and all the fun and joy I find in my wife and kids and all the good times and fun I have with my friends and all the fun, learning and celebration we do as a church family, I’m still quite confident that my only source and help is in God. I’m piling rocks today . . . you got a rock pile going?
Dale Pratt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.