I never really thought much about it: just that they seemed to always be there, in the way.  Something that was the reason that I couldn't get over them to a path that was much smoother and easy.  A formidable barrier.
But sometimes it takes a lifetime to finally realize that the rocks are not the problem.  For there would be no rocks there at all had I not personally placed them, one by one, by myself. Dying is something people do not like to discuss. But the older I get the more I realize that it is the most important thing for living, for I cannot live successfully in this life without first experiencing death to myself. 
From the beginning of my childhood, I quickly learned how adults handled problems: blame someone else.  And so I began to copy the system--to have an excuse for everything, but carefully conceiling my own involvement.  I could have said "no" as well as "yes" to my every decision, for I knew the difference, but "SELF" had become my idol, and I wanted to justify its every action as my right to take care of "Number One"!
What a slave to that passion!  For the more I became important to myself, the less I saw of my need for the educated guesses of others and plans that said I needed to change my thinking. 
The Rocks were piling up, and I wasn't even aware...
I recently read this little article by A.W.Tozer: "The Mistakes Are Mine":
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."                                 --  Matthew 11:29
"A page in church history reveals that the godly Macarius of Optino was once told that his spiritual counsel had been helpful.

"This cannot be," Macarius wrote in reply. "Only the mistakes are mine. All good advice is the advice of the Spirit of God; His advice that I happen to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it."

There is an excellent lesson here which we must not allow to go unregarded. It is the sweet humility of the man of God who was enabled to say, "Only the mistakes are mine."

He was fully convinced that his own efforts could result only in mistakes and that any good that came of his advice must be the work of the Holy Spirit operating within him.
Apparently this was more than a sudden impulse of self-depreciation, which the proudest of men may at times feel; it was rather a settled conviction that gave set and direction to his entire life. His long and humble ministry which brought spiritual aid to many reveals this clearly enough. "


Our frightful world shows us much of the reasons.  For when I do not care for anyone but myself and my problems, then it is easy to continue a lifestyle of eliminating all my concerns about others.  Do I really care that my actions affect anyone but myself? 

To illustrate, let me share a bit of my life with you:

Through some tragic circumstances, my real parents had passed away very early in my childhood. At the age of four, I was adopted.  But it was not a happy home that fate decreed for me. I can say (truthfully) that I was abused, that others took advantage of me, that no one understood me. All of these things created a sadness and dispondency which ate on my spirit like rust destroys iron. 

My adopted mother had cultivated a rock garden of her own.  Never able to realize her dream of a college education, she had developed an animosity toward the reason: because her mother had become pregnant again and was sick she had to remain at home to take care of the family. College dreams were dashed. Bitterness developed to such an extent, that she was always known by her siblings for her reminders that "you owe me so much..." 

When she finally married, she could have no children of her own, but because her husband was wanting children, I was adopted as her daughter.  But I could never really become one, for I was reminded over and over again of my humble, poor beginnings, and that any mistakes I made was because of "bad blood".  It was brought home to me in a dramatic way one day while watching an antique mirror being mounted on the living room wall.  It was beautiful, and had been handed down from a great-aunt.  "Of course, you can never inherit it yourself, because you are not of our bloodline," was her remark to me as I looked on.  How that seared my soul!

Later, as I got out on my own, I tried to discover my roots--as most do who are adopted.  Perhaps if I had only known my real mother---yet that baloon was soon blown apart when I found out that she had died of an abortion.  But for chance, I would have been the one "coat-hangered out of her womb". 


Abuse, lack of love, whatever....these build rock walls for us that we cower behind as excuses for our behavior, our anger, our unforgiveness and resentments. 

And so, for many, many years I dreaded the thought of Mother's Day.  Where could I find a card to send her that would say "I thank you for your love and always being there for me?"  How hard to endure the visits I made, and the rejection of every gift.  Even a crocheted afgan I spent hours making for her was never used and finally given away to the Salvation Army.  It got to where I hated to even think of returning home for visits...


But then Christ came into my life, and the precious Holy Spirit began the process of healing.  I began to see see how much of "I, and ME" were involved in my life-story.  The minute I put them to the forefront of my thinking, I had added another rock to my rockpile.  Until I began to let them be removed, I was keeping myself from the very thing that would give me that "peace that passeth all understanding".  The times I would try to share this new-found experience with her were totally rejected.  She would shake, literally, with rage.  And so I talked with the Lord at what to do.  He told me to just continue to pray for her and love her, which I did.  I would visit with her and endure it all in silence, trusting that the Lord surely had a plan. 

My heart slowly began to change.  But there was no change in my mother.

Late in her 80s, after my father had died she was placed in a nursing home due to health problems.  Then one day she broke her hip, and was in a hospital recuperating.  I went to visit her room, and as I entered the doorway, I looked and saw her crying on her bed.  She turned and saw me and said words I would never have expected to ever hear, "Oh Mary, would you pray for me?"

I WAS LITERALLY SHAKEN TO MY TOES!  My Mother...wants me to pray for HER?  How could this be?

Trembling, I walked beside her bedside and laid my hands on her, and prayed for the Lord to heal her. She began weeping, and soon I saw that a drastic change had taken place...there was a new glow on her face. I knew something marvelous had happened.

It was for real.  The nursing home in which she stayed was astounded at the change, for everywhere she went from that precious moment on, she shared Christ and became a joy to all the rest of the elderly in that place.   And I will never forget the last time I saw her, she took me by the arm and pulled me down to her face. "Mary, I tell everyone here that I have a wonderful daughter who is a missionary." 

I shall never forget those last words.  For as I walked away, I knew it would be the last time I ever saw her.  Mom died at the age of 103.  I was overseas at the time, and could not return in time for the funeral.  Only in eternity will my Mother learn of how later God would use this testimony. For soon afterwards I was in Indonesia having been asked to speak at a conference.  When it ended, Melanie (my travel partner) and I had about a week left before we returned back to Malaysia. We had no other engagements and were staying in an old house without any air-conditioning and sleeping on the floor.  It was so hot!  As we discussed things, Melanie said to me, "why don't we go up and see Lake Toba?"

"What is Lake Toba?" I asked her.

"Oh, it is a famous resort up in the hills." she replied.

"But Melanie, we have no money to do that.  We'll just wait here until the Lord's plan for us comes calling.."

And so we waited.  Then one morning a couple of elderly people came to see me. They wanted to know if I would come to witness to a 100 year-old Queen, the queen of the Batak-Toba tribe.  They forewarned me: she is very bitter and has so much hatred and unforgiveness. She will curse and blaspheme. But I agreed to go.

The next morning a chaffeur picked us up at the house where we were staying and took us to the residence of the Queen. It was an impressive place--a very large living area, graced with many pictures of kings and dignitaries.  Her daughter and family members were also there, waiting anxiously. "It will be a difficult experience," said her daughter, who had been saved and was a devoted Christian, a lovely woman.  "I will have to translate for you. She doesn't speak English."

I was trembling inside.  I had never met royalty before.  What do I do? Curtsy? What is expected of me? But as I sat down beside the wheelchair of this wrinkled old Queen wondering what I was to say, the Holy Spirit whispered into my ear: tell her about your mother....And so I did. Some forty minutes later, the entire house erupted in joyous rapture. And today, hanging in my house is a beautiful handmade tapestry that her daughter later gave to me--one of my most treasured possessions.  For it reminds me of that precious moment the old Queen broke down, crying, and asked Jesus into her heart. 

Afterwards, her daughter and husband took us a dinner of lobster at a fancy restaurant.  When we returned to the house, she asked, "What are your plans for the next three days?"  We answered that we had none. "Would you consider coming with me to Lake Toba? Our family owns the resort there and you can stay with me in our presidental suite and preach all around the island to our tribal people. I will translate for you." Melanie and I looked at each other in total shock and disbelief, but the next day we left with her.  I spent my 62nd birthday there,  luxuriating on another rock--the core of an ancient extinct volcano on Samosir island in Lake Toba.


You see, dearest ones, this is what Jesus came for,  "that we might have life "and have it more abundantly".  He wants so badly to remove the rocks we have laid in front of our own feet--so many of them boulders that keep us from that smooth pathway.  "For My yoke is easy, and My burden light."


July 2007




But we must be willing to let Him do it.