A Pile of Rocks: A Powerful God
When the people of Israel came to the Jordan River priests marched into the water. The waters backed up allowing the people to cross on dry ground. Men from each tribe were instructed to carry rocks and pile them on the shore as a testimony and witness of the delivering hand of God. For generations fathers were to take their children back and say: "Here is where God helped us to cross a swollen river” [Joshua 4 paraphrased]. About 3,500 years later Laila and I were pastoring Wytheville Church. Having purchased new property the congregation ventured to build. We ran out of money. Debts at the lumber companies for the month were about $10,000. Interest rates were 9% and qualifying for loans was difficult. We did not have a loan.
A Methodist minister's widow attended our fellowship. After church on a Sunday she said: "Bring your family and come visit me. I will prepare a meal."
Oh, she was a good cook. Not a hard decision.
After the meal she said: "Now, let's go sit on the front porch."
She was forthright: "The Lord spoke to me to go the bank and take a mortgage on my home for $10,000."
I was mortified because I didn’t want to be viewed as a minister trying to take advantage of an elderly lady. The very thought frightened me. I did all I could to talk her out of it. Then she insisted I go with her. Knowing it was nothing that would advantage me personally, I decided to go with her to the bank.
Next morning we rode to Pulaski. She asked to talk with the President of the bank. They had known each other many years. When she shared with him her request he did everything politely possible in my presence to dissuade her.
She finally looked at him and said: "I know when God speaks. If you will not, then I will go to the other bank."
He drew up the papers and even to the signing kept trying to discourage her.
We paid the church bills and piled up great favor with merchants. We celebrated. She lived to worship in the new building.
One year later to the day I walked into the Pulaski bank with a check for $10,000 plus all interest and fees!
That pile of rocks is still celebrated by Laila and me. We have seen God move. We know His Great Hand.
As we proceed through this week of celebrating the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, we stand on firm ground of faith. The Church is His Church (Ephesians 5). The victory for His Church is certified in Matthew 16:18.
The Resurrection of Jesus is not a historical event but a living testimony. Because of the Resurrection we are made alive in Christ. Our hope is eternal. We too shall live beyond the grave. We will one day dwell forever in the holy presence of Jesus.
The Resurrection of Jesus fuels in the hearts of men a recognition that every soul belongs to God. Christian believers over the past 2,000 years have founded the first charity hospitals and hospices, have effected reforms for prisoners, the mentally ill, and persons with handicaps, have advanced education, have pressed social reforms to improve civilization and quality of life, advocated for care of elderly, child labor laws and protections for women.
Christians have been remarkable for philanthropy and being present with disasters. Though some have now strayed from their original intent and Christian principles, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, and many of America's greatest universities were founded by Christians.
The Bible is still the most published book in the world!
As we come to Sunday we indeed look back with wonder that a grave was found empty because Our Lord had risen. But we also come to Resurrection Sunday knowing that the power of the Resurrection sustains us as we labor for Jesus pushing back the very gates of hell (Matthew 16:18).
We march on to victory piling up "stones" of testimony!
See you Sunday.
John 14:19 Because I live, you also will live."