Holding onto Stones

Over the weekend my husband and I hiked over Hot Springs Mountain and I noticed a downed tree that seemed to grow into my thoughts even as it no longer grew on the mountain. This fallen forest member was different from those we normally come upon. In this area, the rocky soils are exactly as Jesus’ parable illustrates: the trees that grow have shallow roots,” they endure for awhile, and when tribulation or persecution arises … immediately he falls away.” (Matt. 13:21) The tree I noticed Saturday had good roots, it’s just that they wrapped around stones and gripped the rocks instead of spreading far and large in search of fruitful soil; then when the wind blew, the roots held onto the stones and the entire tree fell down.

This reminded me of an update from the women in Cofradia that I have been meaning to relay to you. A week after our team left, the local church women had an outreach and invited other village women to come for a fun afternoon of food, games, ministry, and fellowship. A total of 85 women came – more than expected! At the end of their time together an invitation to come forward for prayer was well received and perhaps 20 or so women came to be hugged and prayed for. After the event was over, one of the local church ladies came to Kathy, one of the base missionaries, and relayed her experience during that prayer time. We’ll call our sister Emily.

This is what Emily experienced during that prayer time. About 10 years ago, a neighbor’s mother (I’ll call the neighbor Wanda) put a curse on Emily’s husband and ever since that time, Emily and Wanda have been feuding and fighting. Emily has since been saved and intellectually knew that the curse was superstitious, but the bad relationship continued. Wanda came to the ladies event at the Cofradia church and went forward for prayer at the end of the service. Emily saw her go forward, and almost without conscious thought went up and prayed for Wanda. Her actions seemed to surprise even herself and led her to search into her heart to find out “What happened here?”

Emily told Kathy that when she went forward, she did not have hate in her heart towards her neighbor any longer. As she prayed with her, she realized that she really cared about and maybe even loved this person. Emily had searched her heart and found that it had been changed and softened. Above all, she testified that God had to have done this because she couldn’t have done it herself!

God promises, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27) Emily most wonderfully realized that she had a new heart of flesh, inhabited by the Spirit of God that gave her genuine affection for her neighbor. She found out that her new heart enabled her to keep the commandments found in Ephesians 4, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (31-32)

Are you holding onto stones of bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness? Do you realize how it will weaken you in a time of stress or trouble? Are you willing to search your heart with God’s illumination to find and un-grip those stones? God promises to remove stones, give new life, nurture, and train.

Praise God that we are given some small glimpses of these transformations.


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