Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chip Off the Ol' Rock

What follows is the story of the second-coolest rock I know. At least today.

I wrote yesterday about the painstaking process of working through the dirt and rock pile, picking out the rocks to put back into the...uhm...rock garden (drainage necessity). And while the work is tedious, it is not without its benefits.

Hence, this rock.

I guess you could say I've always been a rock hound. Not crazily; but I did hide "interesting" rocks in the storage compartment under the seat in my tricycle. And I come by it honest because one day as kids, we walked downtown to the barber shop and my brother started fidgeting in his seat. The barber asked him what the problem was, and he said this thing in his pocket was uncomfortable. He pulled out this monstrosity of a rock almost as big as his forearm and set it on the countertop, then settled in for the rest of his haircut. (Mom made him throw it in the creek on the walk back, but we all remember that rock.)

I thought maybe at 27, I was beyond the fascination of rocks, but there's just something about them.

A couple of days ago, working through the rock pile, a little piece of red rock was sticking out of a clump of dirt. I rolled it around in my fingers (because I am NOT putting dirt back into the garden, if I can help it. It just breeds weeds) and cleaned it off. As the dirt chipped away, then chipped away some more, I uttered an audible "Nuh uh."

There in my hand it was: a chip off the ol' Rock.

More specifically, an orange-red colored heart-shaped piece of sandstone. Check this out:

Isn't it lovely? And what more perfect thing to find in the middle of such tedious work. I have to tell you - it renewed my energies and kept me smiling. Ok. I'm still smiling. It's just that cool.

I look at this rock, and I wonder what it used to be like. Sandstone...it was probably a lot larger, then chipped away into smaller pieces to make the haul of river rock for landscaping. I don't figure it was chipped into a heart, though; I think nature made it that way. I think the time, the pressures, and the elements of nature whittled away at it until a few days ago, when I found it as it is now.

It's breathtaking to think of all it took to get it to look like that. And it makes me think about my Rock - both as He stands and as He lives in me.

When God's people were looking for the Messiah, in their minds, He was much bigger. He was to be an immovable force - a large mass of sandstone. But before He got down here, God chipped away to make it possible for Him to be here among us. Can you imagine if He had come as fully God - all of the immeasurable power of the universe, indescribable wisdom, pure holy? I'm not saying He wasn't those things, but flesh toned Him down a little. It made His presence manageable. I think the Israelites could have appreciated this; they knew that no one had seen God and lived. In the fullness of His form, He would have been too much. Like putting the whole sandstone formation in the backyard. It wouldn't work.

But it doesn't take away the glory one bit. It doesn't lessen the beauty of the sandstone; instead, this little rock makes me long for something bigger. It reminds me of my desire to one day go west and see the red rock formations standing tall and wide. The same way looking at Jesus makes me thirst for God. Insatiably. It may be a little piece, but it is full in majesty, and it sets my heart to ache for more.

And like the little rock I hold in my hand, I think of the way that time, pressure, and the elements have whittled away at Jesus, at what we think of Him, know of Him, believe of Him. This world kind of gets to us, doesn't it? It tries to eat away at all we call "Jesus" until we aren't sure. And for all that whittling, what do we get? We break Him down to love. Simply love. That's where we find Him, and that's what we hold. Love.

I hope the same is true of me, that for those who see the Rock in this clod of dirt, that for all their whittling, they can only break me down as far as love. When the world is done with me, when the time and pressure and elements have had their go, I pray that Love is left.

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