Even Rocks Can Tell a Story
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“… and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
She stands watch high over Hickory Nut Gorge, topped off with a giant Stars and Stripes. As I rock on my deck, I can see her, and her flag, clearly as I gaze across the valley. She is relatively young, as the history of the earth goes, some 535 million years, give or take a million or two. I first climbed to her summit forty nine years ago this summer and have admired her majesty ever since. They call her Chimney Rock.
As I once again went to visit her a few days ago, while walking in the rock tunnel to board the twenty-six story elevator ride to the top, I saw a sign that caught my eye. It said “Rocks Can Tell a Story,” and proceeded to explain how one can examine rocks and find out all sorts of things, including the history of the world. My, how true that is.
Indeed, the planet Earth is made of rock, from the tallest mountains to the floor of the deepest ocean. Thousands of different types of rocks and minerals have been found on Earth. Most rocks at the Earth’s surface are formed from only eight elements (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium), but these elements are combined in a number of ways to make rocks that are very different and each have a different story to tell.
Though the process is slow, rocks are continually changing. Wind and water wear them down and carry bits of rock away; the tiny particles accumulate in a lake or ocean and harden into rock again. Geologists say the oldest rock that has ever been found is more than 3.9 billion years old. Rocks and the history of the earth are synonymous.
But then I thought how rocks have a deep history in the Christian faith. Rocky sites are referred to many times in the Bible as places of refuge. There are frequent images of God as a rock, that is, a source of protection. Titles of God include: the “Stone of Israel” and the “Rock of salvation.” In Matthew Jesus’ teaching is the rock-solid foundation for life. Peter’s God-revealed confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God is the foundation of the church which lays siege to the gates of Hell.
Some of the most striking and beautiful imagery of the Bible is based upon the rocks. They are a symbol of God. “Be thou to me a strong rock a house of defense to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 31:2-3)
Rocks are used for a foundation upon which to build, because they are strong and do not deteriorate. They are much like to Gospel, as it represents both strength and longevity. Jesus’ Word is strong and never changing. It is the foundation upon which we can build a secure life and an assurance of a life to come.
Question: What “rock(s)” imagery in the Bible do you find most personally compelling, and why?
About the Author: John Grant