Go Back To The Rocks
by Pauline Hylton
Alone, I plodded steadily on the track. Tears spilled onto my cheeks, blowing off into my ears as I continued forward. Placing one tired foot in front of the other, I began to sing breathily, “Great-is-Thy-faith-ful-ness, O-God-my-Fa-ther; there-is-no-sha-dow-of-turn-ing-with-Thee.” The syllables of all four verses of that great hymn were pounded out on the track that day as I thought, sang and prayed.
I was a senior at Asbury College. Life spread out in front of me like an unknown roadmap. The year hadn’t ended like I thought it would. Relationships hadn’t worked out. I took a job I wasn’t sure I wanted. God was placing me on His own life-track. I was devastated, yet my mustard seed of faith whispered that He was faithful.
I’ve often thought of that day when in my puny faith, I sang of God’s faithfulness. I call it, “Going Back to the Rocks.” I stole that idea from the patriarchs.
Whenever God spoke to them, or they made a promise to Him, they built an altar. It was usually a heap of rocks, or just one rock, on to which they would pour oil. Don’t ask me why. I guess they didn’t have Jacob and Sons, Contractors, so they resorted to what they could find–a rock and oil. (Sounds like some of the roasts I’ve cooked.)
From Pillow to Pillar
In Genesis 28, Jacob was on the run from his very angry brother, Esau. First time he’d been away from home and he didn’t even know when or if he’d be allowed to come back. He was headed to some place he’d never been, to meet relatives he’d never known.
Pillows were hard to come by in the wilderness, so he laid his head on a rock. That night, God came to Jacob in a dream. During that famous ladder dream, Jehovah-God reiterated the promises He’d made to his father Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham. Jacob responded rightly by naming the place Bethel, or “House of God.” Verse 18 states, “So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top.”
He revisited this place over 20 years later when he left his uncle’s service with a rather large family and much wealth. All that God had promised him had come true. God was with him in whatever he did and had abundantly prospered and blessed him.
So, like Jacob, going back to the rocks is remembering God’s faithfulness in the past in order to trust Him in the future. I’ll give you some examples from my life.
A Stumbling Stone Becomes the Cornerstone
I got married shortly after college to a man I believed to be a Christian. Then my husband, Tom, told me one night at a Chinese restaurant that he wasn’t sure he believed all that “Christian stuff.”
“Like what?” I asked nervously.
He mentioned heaven versus hell and a few other doctrinal issues. Finally I said, “Tom, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to heaven?”
“I’m not sure.”
I was devastated, angry and hurt. How could God let that happen to me? Just like Mary Poppins, I thought I was “practically perfect.”
But for the next 17 years, I discovered again and again God’s faithfulness.
I can recall the time I was so grieved by my husband’s lack of interest in the Lord, that I laid face down on my floor and asked God to please send someone to speak to Tom about Him.
That evening when Tom got home from our charter boat business, he threw a button on the bed that said, “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” I stared at it in disbelief.
“Who gave you that!” I choked.
“Some man came down on the boat today and talked to me about it.”
That was a big rock! No one ever got on our boat unless he was paying for my husband to take him fishing. I’m thinking that when I get to heaven one day, I might meet an angel who’s already met my husband in this life.
There were other rocks during those years, like the countless times that my children and I prayed for fishing charters, so I could be a stay-at-home mom. Miraculously, a customer would call and fill the exact vacancy that we needed.
My biggest rock, however, happened in August of 2000.
It was a Sunday morning, and Tom had agreed to attend church with me. My tween daughter was at youth camp, and our 8-year-old son was with us. Tom was sick and dragging his feet about attending. We loaded into the car, but Tom’s stomach was still queasy.
“You can just drop us off, Tom. I can find a ride home.”
With that, my son Micah said, “I feel kinda sick, too.”
Tom decided to tough it out.
I remember the sermon that day was on faith; and although I was usually “wowed” by my pastor’s sermons, I thought this one was just a little above average. After the service, I noticed that something was very wrong with my husband. His face was white, and he didn’t want to talk. All afternoon, I quizzed him about what was bothering him.
In desperation, I confronted him. “Do you think this Christian stuff is just a bunch of garbage?”
“If you must know, Pauline, I almost did the God thing and chickened out!”
I was shocked. I’d seen no interest in the gospel, no desire for the things of God. In fact, I thought that Tom had moved forever away from God. But that morning, God moved forever toward Tom. Three days later, he met with one of our pastors and made Jesus Lord of his life. His face changed. His life changed. Our lives changed.
Tom did come to Christ, 17 years later. His timing. His place. His way.
Whenever I get really discouraged, I go back to some of those “rocks.”
Take the other day. I was about as discouraged as a menopausal woman could get. My heart was grieved over a sin, so I asked the Lord for a special rock from Him.
Please, Lord, send someone to encourage me, to let me know that you are there.
I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to a local hangout, where I sat at a counter overlooking the parking lot and began to write. An older man sat next to me and tried to strike up a conversation. At first, I ignored him. Then I heard a voice in my head, Pauline, this could be your angel. I decided I’d better pay attention.
He confided in me, “My wife died in September. People say it gets better, but they’re wrong.” (I can’t quote him exactly since he used rather colorful language to state that.) We talked further about care-giving, which led to talk about dying. He spoke for a few minutes of heaven and how he thinks people get there; how he’s been to church, but it’s too long and he didn’t understand any of it anyway.
“Could I explain to you what they were trying to teach you at church?” I asked. This led into a 15 minute explanation of how we are all lawbreakers, but Christ came to live and die because of His love for us. After I finished, he said, “That’s surprising. I’ve never heard that before. Thanks.” With that, he got up, kissed my cheek and left.
Our omniscient God knew that I didn’t need someone to encourage me; I just needed to strengthen my soul by telling someone the good news of salvation. And just maybe, that man needed me to tell him about Jesus.
We all have rocks in our lives. We don’t set up altars in our homes, but shouldn’t we constantly revisit the places in our lives where we’ve experienced God’s faithfulness?
What if God placed a rock in our home every time God had been faithful to us, even when we weren’t aware of it? WE’D BE LIVING IN A ROCK QUARRY!
So take my advice and “Go Back to the Rocks,” just don’t take my advice about cooking roasts.
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.