Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
The Stones Will Cry Out
August 16, 2015
Today I went to church in a graveyard. No, I’m not trying to be symbolic that the spiritual level was dead in the church this morning. I mean we LITERALLY had a church service in a cemetery surrounded by gravestones. Kinda weird, huh?
Actually it was a very cool experience. Ryan’s extended family has a reunion most years, but it’s always out of state and on a weekend, so we haven’t been able to go to any of them since before we were married over two decades ago. This year though, they decided to have it down in Kentucky where the original homestead of Jeremiah & Malinda McCarty (born 1819 & 1820) was settled. Ryan hadn’t been there since he was about 5 or 6 years old, so we made it a point to go this year.
The area is in far eastern Kentucky, within an hour of West Virginia, and up in the Appalachian Mountains of that part of the country. If you’ve ever wondered what “down in the holler” looks like, well I’ve been there.
Interesting thing though, beginning with Jeremiah’s untimely death in 1861, the folks began a family cemetery at the top of one of those Appalachian hills. It was up to this cemetery that we trekked on Saturday evening and Sunday morning to visit the graves of dozens of McCarty family members, spouses and children who had been buried there over the past 154 years.
Some of the gravesites were newer, within the last couple of years, while others were very old, but the gravestones had been replaced with fresh granite stones in order to preserve the memory. Of the remaining original headstones that had been handcarved, some were faded to the point that you had to actually run your fingers along the letters and numbers to make out what they said. And then there were the stones, dozens of them, worn away by the natural elements, no longer displaying any writing on them, stones that time seemed to have forgotten.
Yet there they remained, a testimony to the legacy of a family, strong in both love and faith. Looking over at my daughters and the other kids there this morning, I realized that in that moment there were seven generations of McCarty’s together in one place, at one time.
Ryan preached from the book of Joshua about the time the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and God held back the waters like He did at the Red Sea. Once the last person had stepped to the other side, the Lord told Joshua to have one strong man from each of the twelve tribes go back to the middle of the Jordan to each select a large stone that would be carried to the side of the new land and set up as a memorial. (See Joshua 3 & 4 for the full story.)
Throughout Scripture you’ll often find times when stones were set up as a tribute. Stones without any writing chiseled onto them. Stones that you might not even notice unless you happened to walk right on top of them. Stones much like those worn away in that cemetery.
I used to read those passages and wonder why on earth God would use a plain and simple stone, something with no beauty of its own to be noticed, to mark a location or event in which the Creator Himself had shown His presence. Wouldn’t He rather have used something flashy that drew people’s attention? And THEN, He could remind them who He is.
But that is not God’s way. He doesn’t need an opening act. He just needs an obedient heart. We worry that we won’t have the right words to speak to share His glory with others. We wish we had talents or personalities that drew people in by the droves so that our goodness can lead the way to God’s greatness.
But God doesn’t ask us to be talented and flashy. He just asks us to be stones, plain and simple stones. His glory is so incredible that He can even reflect off of a stone. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2: 5a, 9b NIV)
Generations from now, whether a soul remains who even remembers our name, may our lives have been living stones, a tribute and memorial to the only One whose name matters.