The porch door slid shut behind me as I stepped out. Oklahoma summer afternoons are smoldering. The house was quiet with my tiny ones taking naps. My enlarging belly with child inside had wearied me. I slumped down on the cool concrete step where a narrow strip of shade was to be found under the overhang from the roof and gutter. I was weighed down not only in my body but in my spirit and soul too. The dull still heat threatened to choke out the seedling of hope that seemed to be withering away. Swirling windstorms of worry had dried the bubbling joy that once was my oasis. My head drooped and I held the back of my sweaty neck with both palms.
As I allowed my eyelids to close one hand slipped down to my side and landed on a small stone. Responding to reflex I picked up the hard piece and begin to roll it between my fingers. My glazed over eyes gazed at the rough edges of the dusty rock. The small hollow knocking sound it made as it fell to the paving broke through the silent moan of the moment.
Pray. The word sat by my ear unmoving. Pray.
The fallen stone found its way to my hand again. Words came slowly. I labored to make my breath and mouth release the syllables. The stone became the object of my turmoil. I looked at it and spoke to it as though it were the agony that I was facing. I pressed it with my fist; my stifled fury seeping from the pores of my skin. Uncurling my fingers revealed a damp stone.
More. The calm yet determined word stared me in the face. More.
I found another stone, still clenching the first with my fist. The words came and I formed my prayer as I focused on that second rock. The two were not all. I rushed to look for another. Invoking unseen powers my voice rose to a strained whisper. The stones embodied my worries, my fears, my problems, my issues. Gathering stone after stone I allowed individual situations to surface and be yanked out by the stammering prayers.
Uncaring of the time the plow had driven up through me and I was left with a fistful of stones. Quieted I stared at the mound piled in my cupped hand. The smallness of those ancient bits caused me to quizzically wonder if what had been weighing me down emotionally and spiritually were not similar in size and age to these pieces of earth I held.
Years have passed since that pivotal afternoon. I don’t remember what I did with those stones. I don’t even remember what plights they personified. I had forgotten those stones until just now. Did I save them? No. Did I paint them and put them on display? No. Did I throw them with vengeance to the yellowing grass behind our dingy duplex? I think I would have remembered if I had done that. Their work was done. They had spoken their words. It was probably laundry or dishes that beckoned me from that encounter to go back inside. This I know, those desperate prayers of momentary crushing pain were answered there in the backyard of our temporary place of residence. How am I so sure? It is because I am alive. I have that hope as a strong tree grown up from that struggling sapling. There is a stream of joy flowing in my heart that could have only come from God.
I know the answers came because when I remembered that time I was thinking of some people in my life that are walking on gravel with bare feet. I can pray for them and pray more for them. The boy that went to fight the giant did so with a fistful of stones. It was a fistful of stones that were aimed at a woman when she was forgiven. Stones were piled by a grateful man who had been saved from a devastating flood. It was a great stone that was rolled away to reveal that our Victor lives forevermore with the power to conquer death, hell and the grave!
He lives so that we might live!