Tumbling and Trusting

Lessons Learned From Rock Polishing

“Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:4 NLT

I’ve been in a rocky place. Receiving a new health diagnosis, an auto-immune disease, has ushered in some dark days.

Oh, how I wish I could say that upon receiving the news, I forged ahead with great faith and trust. The truth is, I’ve been angry, confused and frustrated. “Why God?” I asked, and often for many days. I remained stagnant for a while – physically, mentally and spiritually.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) shut me down, zapped my strength and, some days, causes immobility. It effects my ability to type and write and that’s beyond hard. “I’m a believer, your servant, Lord. Why me, why now?” I lament.

On one particularly rough day, I ventured outside to sit in the sun. Warmth and heat feel good to me. Inflamed and in pain, sitting in my chair, I spotted some weeds and grass sprouting in my little rock garden, just below the bird feeder. The mixture of small and medium-sized rocks covers the soil and are meant to prevent the bird seed from germinating.

Because I live on a pond, ducks sometimes visit the rocky area under the feeder, eating the stray seeds that fall. They also scatter the rocks which can get caught in the lawn mower if I don’t throw them back.

Barely able to bend down due to severe inflammation, I was determined to do something useful and began pulling weeds. The Holy Spirit met me in a mighty way in those scattered rocks. “Remember your rock tumbler?” He whispered. I smiled and said “Yes!” Oh, how I loved my rock tumbler as a young girl. “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4) He whispered.

As I tossed the dusty rocks back under the feeder, I fondly remembered the process of polishing rocks. My father and I so enjoyed purchasing the tumbler, finding rocks in the creek behind our home and learning about the process of rock polishing. It’s simple, really. You need a tumbler, an electrical outlet and a place somewhere out of the way as the machine is LOUD.

First, you wash the rocks and fill the tumbler with water. The rocks need to be about the same size so one doesn’t overpower and nick the others, Next, you add the grit. The sandy grit, mixed with the water, slowly begins to polish the rocks as they churn and churn in the tumbler.

The process takes time, often weeks. Then, one day, after much tumbling in dirty, dusty and muddy water, the most beautiful rocks of all colors are revealed. It’s magical, and especially was for me as a little girl.

“You are a rock,” the Spirit whispered to me as I tossed those dirty rocks. “It’s a bit dark and dusty right now but…with time, and a bit of grit and grace, you’ll get through this…and I’ll help you.”

As I held a rock, close to my heart, I saw myself in the hand of The Father. The arthritis plaguing me was and is in His hand too. My days of immobility and pain are gritty yet, they are polishing me. I remember that “He is The Rock of my salvation.” 2 Samuel 2:22. Psalm 71:3 says, “He is my rock and my refuge.”

I know I’ll have other hardships besides RA. More rocky times will come. Perhaps, If I envision the Father, tumbling them, dust, grit, mud, dirt and all…you can too. We don’t have to understand disease or illness and the hard times of life. If we give them to The Rock, He’ll tumble them for us. The process takes time and, often, it’s messy but…if we trust Him and the tumbles, the end result is shiny and beautiful.

Unpolished Peter first was known as Simon, which means “reed”. Jesus was with him in his messes, fumbles and tumbles. In fact, Jesus renamed Simon as Peter which means “rock” and used him to start the church.

A simple, plain rock has glory just waiting to be seen. If we hold His hand in the tumbles of life, the messy, dusty, gritty times will, indeed, polish us.

Jesus, almighty Creator of rocks, mountains and seas, thank you for holding us in the palm of your hand. You are our eternal rock. We praise you for polishing us. Help us trust you in the tumbles. Refine us, uncover us. May your glory shine through.