A Time for Everything For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; Ecclesiastes 3:5
This morning I thought I’d look at Ecclesiastes chapter 3 as we’ll be holding a Women’s Retreat that centers around these verses. I was surprised when reading through this list of seasons to see one about stones. It seems that in today’s culture, we rarely cast away stones or gather stones. In the midst of the love/hate, tear/mend, kill/heal, weep/laugh, break down/build up, there are the stones.
Cast Away/Gather Together
On the Camino de Santiago there is a place where people leave stones. The stones represent burdens, sins, worry, hurt whatever people need to let go of and leave behind. They are piled high at the foot of a very tall cross. Some have written down their angst on the stones. The pilgrims have carried these stones and the issues they represent for miles. To a pilgrim who is walking over 500 miles, every ounce they carry on their backs counts in measures of physical pain and discomfort. These stones they carry are an added burden physically as they walk on this pilgrimage. At this particular point of their journey, they place them on the pile and leave them for Jesus to deal with.
I read yesterday in the book of Joshua about the Israelites crossing over the Jordon River on dry ground and how they gathered large stones from the middle of where the river had been running and stacked them together at the side of the river to mark that day and to serve as a remembrance of what God had done there for them. Stones.
There are several Biblical laws that required the offender to be stoned to death. Stones.
There is one passage of scripture (Deut. 27:5-6) in which God says that if His people are to build an altar for a sacrifice, the stones used to build it were to be unhewn – natural stones with no man made cuts on them. Stones on which they were going to make offerings to please God.
God seems to have uses and purposes for gathering stones together and for casting them away. Gathering for His pleasure and for remembering His works. Casting away in judgment and in God’s justice. When the temple was destroyed, Jesus said that not one stone would remain on another. Maybe God wants us to make use of things (stones), but not to value them so much that we are unwilling to toss them aside when the time comes.
Stones are heavy to carry with you. When it is time to move and follow after God, you need to discard all that weighs you down.
Father God, help us to know when we are to gather and when we are to cast away. Let me not hold tightly to that which is too heavy for me to carry. Help me to toss aside every unnecessary thing in my life so that I may follow after Jesus. Thank You Lord for the reminder that this life is full of seasons. A time to reap and a time to sow. Amen.
I don’t know what season you are in or what stones you may have that need to be gathered into a memorial pile to remember all that God has done for you or to cast away the old weight of pain and brokenness. But I do know that God has purpose in the stones. Allow Him to show you what you need to do with those stones in this season of your life.
Be encouraged. Press on.