Spiked with a rainbow of colored markers, a bright blue bucket filled with golf-ball-size rocks propped open the door of our meeting room. Thankful for the reappearance of sunshine illuminating the curious doorstop and not having to wrestle with the lock while holding bags, props and notes, I wondered what part the blue bucket would play in the weekend retreat where I would be speaking.
My curiosity was quickly quenched as a member of the ministry team explained that the rocks represented the heavy burdens we had brought with us to the retreat. We were encouraged to select a rock from the bucket and, sometime during the weekend, use one of the colored markers to write that burden on the rock. We were then to carry our rocks 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 rocks 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 we 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 woven into the three messages 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 stood looking out over the sparkling water holding in our hands for a final moment 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 heave 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 upon water sounded the casting of cares upon the Lord… and thought, “How great is our God!”
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 into 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.
From the 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.