Stones and rocks have been part of so many stories in the Bible – the stones that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and so many others set up as altars to the Lord. The twelve stones, engraved like a seal with the names of each of the twelve tribes of Israel, that were mounted in the ceremonial breastplate of the priests who served the Lord. The twelve stones that were taken from the middle of the Jordan as a memorial sign of the Lord’s faithful leading of Israel into the Promised Land. The five stones (Although he only needed one!) that the shepherd boy David, later to be Israel’s king, took up to conquer Goliath and the Philistines who had defied the armies of the Living God. The Lord Himself is referred to as the Rock and my Rock over and over again. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is the Cornerstone and the Living Stone. And we ourselves, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to be living stones, built together with other believers to love, serve and represent our Lord.
As you come to him, the Living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5
Over the years, I have collected all kinds of stones and rocks from many places, under many circumstances, as a tangible way to remember the journey and thank my God for leading me faithfully – even when I didn’t know how or where or why I was going or what I would encounter when I got there. These stones and rocks helped me to remember and acknowledge that God was not only leading me, but that God was also actively and intentionally shaping me with His eternal purpose in mind. That, no matter where I went, whom I was with or what I did, I was…
…to be conformed to the image of His Son… – Romans 8:29
Most of the time that shaping and conforming has not come easily. Need brought it. Pain brought it. Loss brought it. Loneliness brought it. Rejection brought it. Confession and repentance of sin brought it. Frustration brought it. Disappointment brought it. Helplessness brought it. Annoying, arrogant, difficult and cruel people brought it. God took all that was hard in my life, and softened me. God took all that revealed my weaknesses, and strengthened me.
A card I received awhile back expressed that exact sentiment. It read: “The most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind and washed by the water and polished to brilliance by life’s strongest storms.”
Our Lord has collected His people, His living stones, by His unfailing, conquering love. And in Jesus and through His unlimited grace and eternal truth, we each are to be shaped, conformed and transformed more and more into His likeness – the beautiful and eternal Living Stone. We are each to be “polished to brilliance!”
May we each give ourselves over, more fully and freely, more actively and intentionally, to our Lord’s shaping and conforming labor of love to be done in our lives. In this way, each of us will become a sign, an altar, a memorial stone – a brilliantly polished stone – pointing others to our Lord Jesus Christ, to His love, salvation and transforming power.