I don’t know about you, but I needed a renewal break this summer from all the events of 2019. The issues and theological polarization within our church and the political polarization within our world can become overwhelming. The pointing of fingers toward each other over contradictory convictions or issues can be simply exhausting; especially if you are charged with leading something like a church. So, this summer I read, spent a great deal of time outdoors and read some more. Both activities are a part of my spiritual practice for renewing my soul.
Two books I read this summer spoke to me. First was Rob Bell’s Love Wins: At the Heart of Life’s Big Questions. Second was Robert Tuttle, Jr.’s biographical book on E. Stanley Jones, In Our Time: The Life and Ministry of E. Stanley Jones.
In one chapter of Bell’s book, he explained how God uses the rocks all around us to remind us of God’s Kingdom.
“It is not going well. The Israelites are thirsty, they can’t find water and they’re angry with Moses, demanding to know why he brought them out of Egypt only to make them and their children and livestock ‘die of thirst.’ Moses cries out to God, ‘What am I to do with these people?’
God tells him to strike a rock with his staff in front of all other people. He does,
And out of the rock comes…water.”
Water out of rocks! You know the story, I hope. Bell’s analogy continues:
“What an odd story.
What an odd rock.
The story goes on, telling us about their continuing journey, the obstacles in their way, God’s patience with them and Moses learning how hard it is to lead people and not lose your sanity in the process.
But the rock – we don’t hear any more about the rock.
Until more than a thousand years later.
In a letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul refers to this story about this rock, saying that those who traveled out of Egypt ‘drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.’ (1 Cor. 10:4)
That rock was … Christ? Jesus?”
It reminds me that while there may be rocks all around me, the rock I need to lean on is Jesus Christ. The only one who can refresh us with new water is Jesus.
E. Stanley Jones, in my opinion is one of our two American saints along with Francis Asbury. Jones spent out his life all over the globe sharing Jesus as Lord. He said, “Do not gaze too long on good people for they are not good enough. Glance at people. Gaze at Jesus; only gaze at Jesus.”
There may be lots of rocks all around us in our journey forward, but we need only one rock to get fresh, living water. The Rock Jesus Christ.
Jones wrote in his book Song of Ascents:
“... All other faiths are philosophies or moralisms – man’s search upward … The gospel is God’s search downward … All of the ideas of the Christian faith are guaranteed by the fact of Christ. … I challenge anyone, anywhere, to expose his or her inner life to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith and obedience … Such person will be changed, profoundly changed, in character and life; and they will know it every fiber of their being.”
Jesus is the Living Rock. Let’s stay focused on him while we deal with all the other rocks around us. Jesus is the Rock of our salvation.