Rock Collections

Liam and I sometimes play a game on our morning walks, unbeknownst to him. We generally play it when he takes rocks from his “rock collection” with us. When this happens, I try to leave as many rocks as I can alongside the pathway where Liam got them in the first place. Liam, on the contrary, tries to take even more rocks home with us. The winner is determined by how many rocks return with us in the end.

This game probably sounds simple, but I have discovered over time that it requires skill and an element of sneakiness if I am to have any success. In order to dispose of the rocks, I must do so without getting caught. Liam makes a big fuss about it otherwise (Apparently, he is already a sore loser! Haha!). He, on the other hand, gets to collects all the rocks he wants right under my nose! I honestly don’t have much choice in the matter unless I want to deal with an upset toddler. Thus, we play the game, and I try my best to be stealthy as we play.

So far, I have won a few games, but Liam has won quite a few too. I’m not too concerned by my losses, however. I know that I will have the final victory when all is said and done. It might take months or even years before this happens, but I will win in the end and claim the title of champion once and for all. It is only a matter of time.

Recently on one of our walks, I was thinking about how easy it is to still have collections as adults, and although they may seem more sophisticated than a pile of rocks, they can be equally as burdensome.

Anxiety. Worry. Fear. Insecurity. Guilt. Shame.

These are just a few that come to mind, but a person’s collection is certainly not limited to them. There are a number of things we can collect over time, and we don’t even need a walk around the park to find them. Life in general is enough to make these collections possible. Fortunately, God offers a solution to these burdens. It all comes down to casting our cares on Him.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

And similarly, in the New Testament:

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (Italics mine)

1 Peter 5:6-8

I don’t remember talking to my parents much about my problems growing up. I’m sure I did from time to time, but I was the middle of five children, and with all the busyness of living within a big family, there wasn’t a lot of time for one-on-one moments with them.

I had a great best friend, however. We met when we were eight years old, and as we got to know each other better over the following months and years, she learned to recognize when something was wrong with me.

Although my natural tendency was to want to hide my problems or push them aside, she wouldn’t let me. She was very insistent that I tell her what was upsetting me each time an issue arose. It took a lot of patience and persistence on her part, but eventually I would tell her what was bothering me.

Over the years, it got easier to tell her what was on my mind. She had proven to me time and again that I could trust her with my problems. She was willing to listen, and she was kind and understanding toward me whenever I told her what was wrong.

When I think of casting my burdens on the LORD, I am reminded of how well my friend listened to me and cared for me in those times. What really amazes me, however, is to recognize that the kindness, compassion, and care she showed me is just a tiny fraction of the kindness, care, and compassion that God has for you and me.

He longs for us to bring our concerns to Him. He already knows them in the first place. He’s completely aware of all the items we are carrying around in our adult version of a rock collection, and when we bring each piece to Him, He can help us to deal with each issue and ultimately be set free.

Although the world, our enemy, and our own sinful flesh would cause us to try to collect more burdens over time, let’s remember that we have a very real Ally that is willing and ready for us to cast our burdens on Him. We don’t have to add to our collections anymore. We can, in fact, dispose of them, and we don’t even have to be sneaky about it! No matter how long it may take to deal with our issues, and no matter how often they may arise, we can take heart in the fact that, in Christ, we will have the final victory when all is said and done. In the end, we will truly see that we have won because we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). But while we wait for that day when we will never know any burden again, let’s continue to cast the ones we have on God. Let’s get rid of some rocks today.

Follow Up Questions:

Do you have a friend like the one I described? If so, what makes it easy to share your problems with that person? How are those traits a glimpse of who God is and how He cares for us? Let’s pray that God would help us to recognize all the more how willing He is to listen to us and that we would be quicker to bring our problems to Him.

The 50-Gallon Jug of Water

Photo by Abhishek Saini from pexels.com

She carries a 50-gallon jug of water with her. Although I’m unsure when she started doing this, it’s safe to assume it has been for years, if not decades. In all reality, it was awaiting her the day she was born.

It’s not a role she wanted. Who would want such a burden to bear? Nonetheless, it was passed onto her, and she has had no other option but to carry it.

We met nearly two years ago when she started taking care of my son at church. I was somewhat aware of the water jug at the time, but I didn’t think too much about it. It’s not something you just ask about, so I put any thoughts of it to the back of my mind and instead focused on what good care she was giving my son.

Several months later, we attended the birthday party for a mutual friend and had a real conversation for perhaps the first time. She mentioned to me that she was attending a new church now, which left me feeling disappointed. Nonetheless, we exchanged numbers and promised each other we’d hang out. It took a few more months, but we finally did and discovered that we had more in common than we could have imagined.

My son got sick a few short months after that, and our family life got turned upside down. But she was there for me throughout that time. She came over once a week to keep me company when I couldn’t get out for Liam’s sake. I probably would have sunk into depression had it not been for those weekly visits. Our afternoon get-togethers helped to alleviate the loneliness during that season of life.

After many months of weekly visits, my thoughts about the water jug started to resurface, and I wanted to ask her questions about it but second-guessed myself. Would I only be bringing up a conversation that was too painful to talk about? Would I unintentionally say something offensive or ignorant and only add to the weight of her already overflowing jug? As a result, I said nothing. As it was, we had so much to talk about anyway. We deeply connected on several areas of life, so we enjoyed talking about those topics instead. Besides, she probably knew that I cared about her and her struggles. We had shared so many of our struggles with each other as it was. Surely, she knew I cared.

But then Dallas happened, and I could no longer keep silent.

As we added ingredients to a mixing bowl for the dessert we were making one afternoon, I asked her about it. How was she feeling in light of this tragedy? What were her thoughts?

In response, she gently took me by the hand and helped me to wade into the waters from where her jug had been filled. We didn’t enter far. She no doubt knew I didn’t know how to swim in this river. But we got our feet wet as she expressed her heart to me about these issues, and I listened with empathy and gratefulness that she had trusted me enough to share. This whole experience was a baby step for me, but it was a good first step that I envisioned would lead to many more.

A half a year later, news of what had happened in Brunswick, Georgia reached our doors, and I found myself acquiring my own water jug by that time. It wasn’t very weighty in comparison to that of my friend’s. Just a gallon at most. But it was one I had acquired as an emotional response to hers in knowing that all these events were only adding to her already overflowing jug.

I walked around my house that week, feeling exhausted by the weight of my own jug. I wanted to cry. I wanted to sleep. I just wanted to make it all go away. And all I could think about, as I carried my one-gallon jug around, was how heavy her jug must be and how much of a part of her life it was. This was her life. It had always been.

I thought to make a care package for her. It was nothing ornate or incredibly special since the pandemic was in place and my ability to get to the store was limited. Nonetheless, I did the best I could and hoped it would show her how much I cared.

As I drove to her place the next morning, I called her to confirm she’d be home when I dropped the present off at her door.

She told me how sweet it was of me to give her a gift and how she should really be doing something for me since it was Mother’s Day.

The words gushed out of my mouth as I explained to her why I wanted to give her this care package. I told her about my newly acquired water jug and how I was grieving over the heaviness of her own as I carried around my lighter burden. And once again, all I could think about was how this was her life and had always been.

She cried, and so did I. And after dropping off the package on her porch that day, I drove away asking God to comfort her heart and to show me how I could love her well in the midst of so much wrong in this world. I wanted to help bring about real change, and I needed God to show me how.

I wish I could say that carrying my gallon jug alongside my friend has been a means of bearing her burden, but I don’t think it is. And even as her other friends have come alongside her and carried their own gallon water jugs in solidarity, I don’t think these acts have diminished her load. How can the weight of the water be made less, after all, when the water doesn’t cease to keep being poured into her jug?

Still, I hope she finds comfort as we walk beside her and express our concern and desire for a better future for her and others who share her same path.

I imagine a day where she and many others like her will lead the way up a grassy knoll. They will lead, and those of us with smaller-sized jugs will follow. And then, in one sweeping motion, we will all pour out our water and shatter our jugs once and for all with shouts of joy and triumph.

And as these shouts of celebration reverberate on that hill and saturate the sky, the walls will crumble to the ground. Every stone and brick of hatred, racism, oppression, prejudice, discrimination, and injustice will fall down and break to pieces, never to be built up again.

But until God brings that day to fruition, let us “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17 ESV).