Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rolling Stones

Yes, we’re back from vacation. Lots of thanks to Matt for filling the pulpit last Sunday. Matt always does an excellent job with the sermon which allows me to truly get away on the Sundays I’m not here. Alyson, the kids, and I went to Texarkana for a few days to see my parents. We had a wonderful visit. We even managed to get in that day trip to the diamond mine at Murfreesboro that I’ve written about before. I can’t tell you how excited Sophie was. I know that in her mind she was envisioning a cave with sparkling diamonds embedded in the walls. The reality is a big field of dirt and rock with very little shade. We dug and sifted and searched, but alas, no diamonds. Sophie wasn’t too disappointed. We walked away with a big, blue *diamond* from the gift shop that’s about the size of a golf ball. It also helped that there was a swimming pool.

Although we didn’t find a diamond, we did find plenty of other kinds of rocks. Though unimpressive upon first glance, I told the kids that if we took them home and washed them off and placed them in our rock tumbler they would become as shiny and pretty as the rocks in the gift shop. They were hooked. The first thing Sophie did when we got home was ask about the tumbler. I pulled it out, filled it with rocks, grit, and water, and flipped it on. I told Sophie that she was going to have to be patient – to truly polish these rocks would take almost a month. That’s a long time for a four year old (as well as for a lot of adults). I explained that for as long as a month is, it’s a short time compared to the way God polishes a rock in nature. There it takes thousands of years of rolling around in a river bed. I’m not sure she got the point. It will be interesting to see if her attention span allows her to remain interested in this project for very long.

Of course, she’s not the only person who has trouble being patient as God does his transforming work in the world. We all do. I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, in which he contends that true discipleship requires just what the title indicates. The problem is not the appeal of the gospel. Many find the gospel’s story appealing. The trouble is with our attention spans. He writes, “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” We find the promises of the gospel appealing – holiness, wholeness, and the whole bit. But many of us lose interest when we discover this transformation takes more than a couple of days.

The rock tumbler is now in our garage. It makes quite a bit of noise as it rolls and tumbles along. At first, the noise slightly annoyed me. I’ve started to find comfort in it, though. It is reminding me that God is at a similar slow and deliberate work in me – if I’ll be patient and not lose hope.

[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:6.

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