Book signings, speaking engagements for Glimpses of Hope, the completion of hospital chaplaincy training and beginning of my ministry at St. Luke’s Hospital - and word that three dear friends have been diagnosed with cancer over the past two weeks. Several others are struggling with the side effects of treatment and the ravages of the disease itself. My own need is to be so continually replenished with His living and loving Presence that I can minister out of the overflow of the love of Christ.
Having grown accustomed to the apostle Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing”, I characteristically talk openly and often aloud to the Lord throughout the day and night in any and every situation or activity. Early last week, however, that still small voice I have learned to recognize as His encouraged me to simply sit in a chair by the window and listen. I did not hear anything…but after a time, I became aware of a subtle swaying of my body. I watched in fascination as my torso moved back and forth, as if I were being rocked gently by an unseen hand. This cradling was completely involuntary and was accompanied by a sensation of deep peace and warmth.
Our all-knowing and all-loving Father was holding me in His everlasting arms and comforting me in a way that no one and nothing else could. He was speaking to me without words. He was rocking me, His little child.
This experience caused me to think about the word “rock” - both as a noun and as a verb. There are multiple references in the Bible to God as the Rock of Israel, our Rock and Redeemer, Rock and Fortress, Rock and Shield; certainly the connotation is one of tremendous immovability, strength, and dependability. Then there are the more subtle metaphoric implications: water gushing from a rock to quench the thirst of the Israelites; rocks flung from the shepherd boy David’s slingshot to slay Goliath. Jesus Himself spoke of Peter as the rock on which He would build His Church.
But what about “rock” as a verb? It can certainly imply something that completely pulls the rug out from under us. At any moment, life can be rocked by the tragedy of disease, divorce, death. Isaiah 8:14 says, “He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” Yet Psalm 18, one of the many psalms of David, reads, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge.” This same Rock can cause us to fall - or lift us up. It can make us stumble, or can cradle us ever so gently. We choose.
Every day since my precious rocking time with God, I have returned to that same chair for more. He always meets me there and I feel His Presence as I sweetly sway in his arms. It makes me want to sing that old Fanny Crosby hymn:
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand.