The stone felt cold as it rested in the palm of my hand. It was smooth and pale—a small fragment of limestone that resembled those that covered the walls of Jerusalem. I and a hundred others were in two boats sailing on the Sea of Galilee. I had never intended to celebrate my birthday like this.
In fact, I never even planned on being on the trip, but my parents, being as enthusiastic as they are, had somehow convinced me to come. In short, everything was paid for, and I tagged along begrudgingly. Originally, I had planned to spend my special day with my friends, but God had other plans, better plans.
The whole experience was nothing short of surreal. There we were on the very same lake where Jesus once calmed the storm and walked on water. We sat patiently, each of us with a stone, as the boats came to a slow halt in the middle of the great lake.
What was the significance of the stones and why were we carrying them around?
Israel has an abundance of stones. Under its manicured infrastructures and lush greens lie the ruins and rubble of cities repeatedly built and torn down, fortresses and temples lost in time but are still there waiting to be discovered, slowly unravelling the past, and continuously proving that the Word is real and very much alive. These stones are important. They are monuments. They are reminders of how much God has faithfully kept His promises to His people, even though a lot of times they haven’t.
Perhaps the most important stone in the whole trip was a particular stone that wasn’t even there. It was the massive boulder that was supposed to seal off the tomb where Jesus’ body lay. It was moved and eventually disappeared in time. All that was left was the empty tomb.
“Why you believe what you believe is most important.” I was reminded of this as I held the tiny stone in my hand. We were in the Holy Land, retracing Jesus’ steps, revisiting His life and experiences with his disciples who willingly gave up their lives for the Truth that He died for the forgiveness of our sins, was buried, and rose again.
This Truth is something unfathomable, but seeing the several physical proofs before me gave my once restless mind peace and confidence in the Truth and that God keeps His promises if we trust and obey.
I stated earlier that the stones serve as reminders, hence it was only fitting that the ones in our hands also reminded us of things that hinder us from submitting ourselves to God: our doubts, sorrows, fears, worries, burdens, obsessions, and hang ups. In my case, my stone embodied my selfishness and the worries I left back home.
As I stood on the edge of the boat, I reflected on how my pettiness and selfish plans almost robbed me of the chance of meeting new friends, gaining unforgettable experiences, and learning more about myself and God. I was in tears, thankful for the grace He’s given me, thankful for my parents, and thankful for how faithful God has been in my life. In the middle of the Sea of Galilee, I held out the stone in my hand and let go.
Robert Musico is a technical marketing specialist for Trend Micro Inc. He is 24 years old and is a freelance writer.