I have these two precious stones. An emerald and a ruby. Neither remotely resemble a gemstone. Instead they’re rough, grainy, full of pits and marks. Raw. But down inside, they are brilliant.
Each day I carry them to the River and gently place them in the water. Sometimes it’s surging, swollen with undertow and flow. Other days it lazily drifts. When I release my tiny gems into the water, they churn, bang and roll in the current. The water passes over them, slowly rubbing away at the sharp edges and bumpy cracks. And at the day’s end the River returns the stones to me. I pick them up, dripping and slippery, patting them dry. They are a bit smoother in my palm.
My job is not to make them into regal things of beauty. It is simply to carry them to the River and let God do the work. He polishes and shapes, forms and reforms. All I do is wait and watch from the shore, caring for the gems when they return. I am the stone-keeper, dusting them off and navigating them back to the River each day. It is not a glamorous job, but it is a vital one.
Without the River, stones remain unchanged.
They need a guide–a watchman. Someone to inspect their progress and release them into just the right part of the water each day. From there God takes over, but like my stones, the flow is always changing. He brings a new mercy and a new challenge each day. There are times I have wanted to jump in after them; save them from the pounding lessons. What goes on in the deep is a mystery, and that is the best part. When the ripples wash my little stones back to me, they are always different. Always made new in some small way.
But sometimes they emerge still so rough. It looks as if nothing occurred for the agonizing pounding we endured. And when I don’t see the change I become overwhelmed. They will never be glittering gems, I fear.
My arms often ache from weight of carrying them daily. Back and forth, to and from…a path worn from the miles I have shouldered them.
I must remember to let the River refresh me as well. To drink from it’s wellspring daily and soak my tired feet in it’s chill, allowing the waters to nourish my muscles, which are now stronger. Wiser. Braver.
For through my stones, the River is shaping me too.