Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stones


I am sure that we have all been to those places, tourist sites that tell you not to pick up things up and take them home. Imagine if everyone who visited the Coliseum in Rome pocketed a stone. The famous building would soon be dismantled. There is a reason why people are told not to pick up things and take them home.

If I could find the right coat hanging up in the closet, and find the right pocket – the one full of crumpled up Kleenex tissues, nestling at the bottom of the pocket would be a stone. It didn’t come from the Coliseum or the Acropolis or any other ancient monument. It came from an uphill path of a nature trail in the Cairngorm mountains. I don’t think for a moment that the stone is native to the mountain. It was just part of a bag of loose gravel poured over the path so that people didn’t have to squelch through mud, or bounce from one patch of heather to the next.

I picked up the stone because it glistened in the sunlight. It was a pretty stone. I had walked up the hill, felt my heart pounding, wiped the sweat stinging in my eyes and the stone was a memory marker of the day. There were no ominous notices about not taking the stones home. There will always be another bag of gravel to repair the path is people pick up stones along the route.

Not all the stones that I possess have been picked-up ones. A few years ago, the last time I attended Weightwatchers, the leader handed out small polished stones to commemorate every stone of weight that a member lost. I earned two stones before I fell by the wayside and chocolate crawled back onto the menu.

The other stone I remember being given was a small white stone. The pastor in my church had been preaching a sermon based on Revelation 2:12-17.

“To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” (v17)

He had a basket of stones and encouraged us all to take one as an object lesson to what he had taught. I would like to say that I know where my white stone is but I don’t. I haven’t thrown it out – it has just become lost in one of the cups, jars or vases that hold stuff that I hoard. Although I may not have the stone to hold in my hand, I have the memory of it and all that it reminds me of.

Last night, in amongst a whole plethora of dreams, most of which were about re-writing paragraphs of the current book I was reading, I dreamed about the cross of Jesus. I don’t think it was the crucifixion itself but the concept of going to the cross as in laying down your burdens, of nailing your sin to the cross. In my dream the disciples were looking for a hallmark, something to identify that someone had done that. Some people who came were just spectators. They didn’t come in response to a call but merely a curiosity. The disciples decided that when people came to the cross, to Christ, they would give them a stone. It kind of ties in with Revelation 2:17

I remember feeling a sense of panic at the time because I didn’t have a stone. I didn’t remember being given one. Did that mean that I hadn’t ever really gone to the cross at all? I was told that I had a stone, I had just forgotten where I had put it. I got the sinking feeling inside that I would need to be able to show my stone to someone in authority before I could enter into heaven, or access the resources of heaven. I would probably have spent much of the rest of the dream searching through the cups, jars and vases looking for the stone…but I woke up at that point.

If only it was as easy as having a stone to hold – that hallmark of someone who has been to the cross.

Colossians 3 has much to say about hallmarks:-

”Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. …Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

I may not know where my stone is, but I am working with God to show that coming to the cross of Christ has changed me - and continues to change me.

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