Ever skip rocks as a kid? Remember searching for the perfect stone? When we moved to Milwaukee, we didn’t waste much time heading to Lake Michigan, and it didn’t take long for the kids to start looking for stones. They’d pick up one and drop it, pick up another and give it a try. They were determined to find stones fit for skipping, and, not to brag, but they’ve played a lot of ball, so they can throw. It was fun to watch.
What kind of stone are you? One God should pass by, pick up, or toss aside? One the world looks at and says, “That’s the one,” or one for which it has little use? Are you fit for skipping or do you just keep sinking?
More than a decade ago now I developed a habit that I sometimes regret. As part of remembering my baptism, I will often take my time in the shower to give God all the stuff on my mind, heart, and conscience, with the water reminding me that God has washed all my sins away. Unfortunately, since I am a stubbornly pessimistic person, one prone to holding onto the negative, this has morphed at times into my morning shower becoming complaining time. I complain about myself. I complain about my life. I complain about whatever. Rather than stepping out of the shower joyful and renewed, I end up grumpy and defeated. When I get stuck in a rut, this only makes things worse.
I’m guessing you’re sometimes at least somewhat like me. You get down on yourself, on life, and on whatever else, and not without good reason. You don’t feel fit for skipping. You feel lost in the background. You feel picked up and tossed aside. And so we wonder, “What good is a rejected stone? What good is a rock no one wants to skip?”
Peter knew that feeling well. His name meant “stone” or “rock.” Christ had given him that name. And yet how often had Peter failed to live up to it? How often had he not been corrected? How often had he denied the Lord, failed to listen, or chosen the wrong path? Peter knew what it was to be an unworthy stone. Do you know what never happened, though? The Lord never tossed him aside. The Lord never declared him unworthy, even when he declared him foolish. The Lord knew how it felt to be a rejected stone.
St. Peter tells us: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” And because this is so, things have changed drastically for us. St. Peter explains, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Do me a favor. Take a moment and think on all the stuff you’d say in the shower. What makes you unworthy? What makes you unskippable? What makes you worth picking up and tossing away? Think on it, and then let it wash away, because it is washed away. Like it or not, as much as you’d like to grumble and wallow, it’s gone. You’re not that stone. You’re not that rock. You’re something new. You’ve been picked up and you will never be tossed aside.
Christ doesn’t find stones fit for skipping, but he does make them. He makes them with water for water. You’re his stones, and that should set us all skipping, even when we face waves, even when the world doesn’t see what Jesus does.
Hear the words the living stone speaks to you, because his word is truth.
Jesus told his disciples that he had picked them up and wouldn’t let them go. He promised them: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Leave the nonsense in the shower, because none of it makes sense in Christ. Leave all those words for the drain. Hear the words the living stone speaks to you, because his word is truth, and his word endures forever.
What matters isn’t what you think, what the world thinks, what anyone thinks. What matters is what this living stone thinks, the cornerstone, Jesus, the One who saves, because “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” and he has put his name on you in waters better than Lake Michigan, in waters of new life, every day, for all your days. You are stones set for skipping. Amen.