A bright red bucket, spiked with a rainbow of colored markers propped open the door of our meeting room. Next to it another bucket was filled with smooth, golf-ball-size rocks. What part, I wondered, would these play in the weekend retreat I was attending.
My curiosity was quickly quenched as a member of the ministry team explained the rocks represented the heavy burdens brought with us to the retreat. We were encouraged to select a rock and, sometime during the weekend, use one of the colored markers to write a burden we were carrying on it. We were then to carry our rock to the nearby lake and, in a symbolic gesture of our faith and trust in God to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28), cast our anxiety and rock into the lake knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
As I walked to the pier with two other women, each of us warming the cool rock held in our hands, I reflected on the powerful way God was using this exercise in my life and the lives of others, and how perfectly it went along with the ribbon of thoughts I would be sharing on ways to live above our circumstances, and learn how to bounce rather than break through times of challenge and change.
Our conversation lulled and then ceased altogether as our wooded walk ended and the lake came into view. We moved to separate places along the pier and looked out over the sparkling water. For a final moment we held in our hand that which we were about to place in God’s. I took a deep breath, involuntarily held it, and then with a heavy sigh, was the first to pitch my rock into the lake. My eyes rimmed with tears of relief and release as the water’s now broken surface expanded in circles, and melted into the roll of a distant boat’s wake making its way to shore. I stayed there, thankful for grace and love that endures forever and listening as, one-by-one, the splash of other rocks sounded the casting of cares upon the Lord…
Afterward, we gathered like sea birds along the pier’s railing to enjoy the warmth of sun upon our backs, and shared the joyful expectation we felt knowing God was already working our burdens to good!
You may not have a rock in your fist right now or a lake to throw it in, but you can, through the power of prayer, trust your burdens to God. You do not need to be at a retreat to take a deep breath, symbolically uncurl your fingers from around your burdens and, with a sigh, turn your empty hands palms up and release them to the Lord.
A favorite hymn: “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Joseph M. Scriven 1855
Watch this beautiful video that shares the story behind this marvelous hymn.