The grind of the academic year screams to halt upon the submission of final grades. There is a beautiful silence that echoes through the halls as the daily traffic ceases. Colleagues are more ready to engage in more lengthy conversations, summer research goals are easily and quickly carved. Students will occasion your office, sometimes with tears of joy and other times with sadness.
This term, the emptiness of my office lingered heavy on my mind. My time at Baylor University was ending, a new chapter beginning at Clarkson University. My books were boxed, pictures were delicately stacked in a corner, letters from students now put away. My voice echoed about the room like a pinball machine with a hundred balls! All that was left was my external hard drive, a pen, and a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress.
The book was to be gifted to my colleague and mentor Qin Sheng. I opened the inside cover and within minutes wrote an inscription and poem to Qin expressing my gratitude toward his mentorship. Why do we write these inscriptions? To say thanks? To express our heart to someone? Or is it so that we both remember that moment?
Throughout my entire life I have habitually taken rocks as a reminder of a certain experience. I have a rock from my last baseball game that I played in. I have a rock from when I ran a 2:03 half mile. I have a rock from the day that I graduated college. I have a rock from when I was to be baptized. I now have a new rock that sits at my desk. None of the rocks are labeled nor fancy, however I can remember where and when I picked them up. Why do I do this? Because, like many of us, we have the tendency to forget!
The rock serves as a testimony to the faithfulness of God. This practice is seen throughout the Bible. In that light, the entire Bible is dedicated to reminding ourselves to what God has done for all of us. It reminds us what He will do, it tells us how to find the path home through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the natural tendency is to forget. Often-times, focusing on the ordinariness of life.
I think about the 12 stones from each Isreali tribe that Joshua stacked to remind themselves of what God had done and was about to do. God then parted the Jordan river and the people marched into the promised land for the first time en route to Jericho (Joshua 4:8-18).
I think about David’s Song of Praise, a testimony to God delivering David from his enemies, when it seemed at many times all hope was lost (2 Samuel 22).
I think about the Song of Moses, a testimony of God leading His people out of slavery, defeating the Egyptians, and parting the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21).
In each instance the people forgot, regardless of the written testimonies, songs, or erected monuments. No amount of supernatural miracles prevented this. They forgot. We would have forgotten, we do forget. Instead of taking a rock as a reminder, we throw them at the very one who will offer us bread and life. Yet, no matter how hard the stones are thrown, it never takes away from the incredible grace offered to us through the cross.
We are fickle and we’ll forget. However, even if you are eating the slop with the pigs and snubbing our noses at our Father He is still there waiting to forgive, if only we turn to Him. And when or if that occurs for you, I am assured that a new rock, a cornerstone in fact, will form for you that you won’t forget so easily.