Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stones underfoot...

I have always been a barefoot girl. I used to boast about how my feet could handle the hottest concrete or the roughest rocks. I still find myself driving away from home before I realize I don't have any shoes with me. My earliest actual memory is of burning my feet on the hot cracked blacktop in San Fransisco when I was only 1. My mother is the same as me, and tells tales of her attempts at going to school barefoot by painting a "flip flop" top onto her foot! My daughter is following in my footsteps (literally) and we have had to eat on the patio of many a restaurant after arriving and realizing she had no shoes!

Why am I telling you this? Well, I think I have an analogy, a story, a "parable" to tell you about this very thing.

There once as a girl who walked in Israel with Jesus. She would often watch him from afar walking with his disciples, and she heard many stories about him. She heard him preaching in the temple, and on the mountain... but could never find a way to be alone with him. One day, while walking alone on the hillside, she came upon this Jesus sitting patiently on a large rock. He was waiting for her! As she nears him, he gets up and begins to walk along the path.
His clothes are plain and worn, and his feet are bare. He walks through the small white stones on the path just like an ordinary person. She had imagined from the stories she heard, that he might float above the road or glide along like an angel... but was surprised to see him carefully hopping through the stones on the road, trying to balance himself lightly to avoid the sharpest rocks.
She catches up to him and he says,
"These rocks hurt a little don't they? They have sharp unpredictable points".
He picks one up and shows it to her and begins to describe the many uses for stones just as these.

"Rocks like these have been used to stone and punish. They've also been piled together as an altar. They've been heated in the fire to soothe sore muscles. Others have rolled down the hill and broken into smaller pieces, and still others have landed amongst the grassy field where an unsuspecting child might step on it unknowingly. Stones have been collected, and treasured, and skipped on lakes. Others are ground up and used to build buildings. They have so many purposes, so many uses, and can be viewed in many different ways."

He then cast the rock aside and pointed at her feet.
"You have stones beneath your feet, are you just going to walk and cringe at the pain they cause, or stop and pick them out of your skin and find out what kind they are?"

They then sit together on the hill and she looks down at her own dusty, dirty feet. She removes a small white stone from her heel so that she can walk with Jesus at a quicker and easier, more confident pace.

Then she asked him "Lord, what kind of stone did I have in my foot?"

And he answered,
"That particular stone in your heel was once a piece of a boulder that crashed down the mountainside. It was then picked up in the clutches of a bird and placed directly in your path years ago. When you walked upon it, it wedged itself deep inside.... and you ignored the pain it caused. You kept walking on it, and pushing it further and further inside. "

She then pulled the rock from her pocket where she had considered keeping it, and gave it to Jesus. He smiled and took the rock from her hand and said,
"Thank-you for trusting me with your rock. It was not your rock to carry and you have been bearing it for no reason. You are brave to give it to me, for only I can turn this rock into one that won't hurt others in the future. "

I too, have been walking on stones that hurt. I too, have ignored the pain and stuffed it down deep. I too, have often wondered if the "stones in my path" were supposed to toughen me up or make me stronger. And I too, have now begun to allow Jesus to take the stones from my feet. And I will trust him now to heal the wounds and scars that were left behind.

What kind of stones do you have underfoot?