Stones litter the journey

 photo 934986_10151535578203672_173080186_n_zpsbd8f3b60.jpg
(photo courtesy of Laura Boggess)
Jennifer Lee wrote today :

“I turn the rocks in my hands, weeping for all the ways that we cast stones at ourselves, making ourselves believe we’ve never been good enough, and we never will be.”

This past weekend at Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, we were challenged by Jennifer to write down our fears, the things that were standing in our way, of chasing our dreams, of stepping up to the challenge of walking the journey laid out just beyond the gate before us. We wrote them down on river rocks and then surrendered them to woven baskets reminiscent of those holding the loaves and fish. Offerings which seem so small in our eyes and yet God turns and multiplies for his glory. And in this instance, the multiplication is the peace in our hearts and the glory of Him in our lives that begins to be renewed and re-flame once again.

Jennifer shared that she would pray over each of these rocks, that she would pray for the woman who had shared each fear and that she would lift those to God. It had been a visual sign for us to relinquish our fears in this way, and for some it was quite difficult to walk up and surrender…not knowing what life without those fears looks like. I have been guilty of choosing to live in a ‘less-than’ life, because facing the unknown seems to be far more scary then moving out into the life of dream chasing and faith living.

Before leaving for the retreat I shared with some of my dear friend what some of my fears were heading into the retreat. They prayed about them with me…but some of them were still present when I entered the building. I had this idea that there are ‘big B’ bloggers, those who are well known, have a platform and in my mind are ‘achievers’ of perhaps what I desire for myself. Big blog names that everyone seems to know and follow. Then there were some of the others of us ‘the normal b’ bloggers, the ones just getting started, who were rarely known and were trying desperately to figure out how their desire to write fit into this crazy life that God was calling them to walk with Him by their side/my side.

What a misconception. I had thought through (and been reminded by my friends) that each of these women (and men) were merely human and that they hadn’t ‘arrived’ as I had  thought but were also journeying along and figuring out life and had their own insecurities and questions as well. It took me time to realize this was true, but only through interacting with them…and geeking out a bit. However it seemed that the lie of ‘what am I doing here and what do I have to add to the conversation’ came out into the light again in one of the sessions on  Saturday. and i was reminded gently that sometimes the voice speaking loudest in the quiet, is not the quiet calm of my dear Saviour, but rather the Lie speaker pretending that truth comes from his mouth.

And as I read Jennifer’s beautiful entry today, I began to ponder the following: that my own voice is my worst critic and speaks my fears so loudly. Perhaps its not others who are yearning to throw that first ostracizing stone but rather my own hand…’He who is without sin’…thank you for getting my heart stuck on that idea, and see how much I need to cling to grace and see that He has paid it ALL…

I am referring to the woman who has been caught IN sin. She has been brought before Jesus by the religious leaders to trap him into saying something that they could arrest him for. Instead Jesus puts forth a loaded statement and then stoops down and writes in the dust.

Jesus calls them out by saying “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7). We don’t know what he’s writing in the dirt. I like to imagine that he’s writing by her feet…that her head is hanging down in shame, she is on edge not knowing what this Rabbi will do or say, but she is intrigued that he has bent down near her and begun to write in the dust. Perhaps he writers her name, perhaps he writes sins that they were all guilty of, we do not know. What we do know is that he gave each person the chance to realize that he had turned their very clever ploy on its head and knew that they couldn’t possibly claim to be completely without sin. And so one by one they wander away, probably trying desperately to figure out another way to trap Christ in what he said. However, As she stood quiet, perhaps tears running down her face, perhaps in defiance, waiting for her judgement…I’m sure his words are very confusing to someone who knew the rules of the day.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

His question must have taken her by surprise. She was being asked about her perpetrators…she wasn’t being asked about her sin, whether what she was being accused of was true or not, but rather if she was still standing there. And when she replies (As Jesus already knows) ‘No one’ remains, he speaks truth into her life that she couldn’t possibly have expected, and yet I assume, drank in deeply.

I do not condemn you…go and sin no more. such short commands and yet so full of promise of new life and a new journey. His acknowledgement that he knew she had been involved in sin was brief, he didn’t read her a list of her indiscretions and tell her how she must pay for each one. Instead he spoke of her sin and how she had not been condemned but rather set forth (go!) and challenged to change her life, after meeting Christ.

sometimes…i let the words of the deciever grow so loud, that I lay in torment accepting the blows. if only I opened my eyes, I would find that the one who throws those stones that rip my dreams to shreds and leave me quaking in fear…are resting in my own clenched fist, ready to be hurled at my wounded heart.

Lord…i need your grace, let me cling to your promise ‘Neither do I condemn you’. You have paid IT all. There is nothing that I can that will slip by the waves of grave. ‘Go and sin no more’ is your challenge to seek healing for our hearts, by seeing that all we could ever need or desire can only be found in YOU and no where and no one else. Let my eyes not continue to be blinded by my misguided beliefs of not having much to offer or say. Thank you Lord for giving me words, for giving me a passionate heart, for giving me a compassionate soul…

thank you God…for the hope that can only be found in you.

Jennifer and her daughters will be taking those stones, the ones we wrote our fears upon and tossing them into a natural lake by her home. Each of those stones after having been prayed over will be tossed as far as the eye can see…and come to rest in the recesses of the cool water, where only the fish and fauna will be privy to once held us in its vise-like grip. These rocks have been surrendered to forgiveness, the cleansing blood as covered them…each of those fears, has been paid for at the cross. I’m not saying its sin to fear…I’m just saying that he knew that was coming…and it has it covered. Your fear is no surprise to Him.

so I strive to remember…that fear and all the rest which might pop up are natural to be faced as I journey into my God-sized dream, but they don’t have to stay there, blocking the way, making me tremble at the thought of having them thrown at me again and again, but instead they can be seized  named for what they are, lies…and surrendered to the one who will break their hold and speak truth over his daughter (and sons) once and for all.

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15 thoughts on “Stones litter the journey

  1. “Your fear is no surprise to Him.”

    Yes. That. ^^^^^

    Believing with you, beautiful you, Janel. We can do this. YOU can do this! You matter to God, and you matter to people. And for the record, you also matter to me.

    • Wow, This Is So Powerful. How True It Is That Most Often I Hold My Own Stones. And That The Loud Voice Is Most Often A Lie. I Truly Believe We Are All On A Journey And No One’s Story Is More Important Than Another’s. Thank You For Reminding Me And For Sharing Yours.

  2. So fun to get to know you and hang around chatting in the semi-warm,semi-freezing deck chairs. I’m so glad you made it to the retreat and didn’t end up stranded at the airport! So thankful for Jennifer speaking truth and lightening my load. Seriously, I do think the loudest voices come from within. And it’s great to realize that the famous bloggers are still just famous bloggers. Not superhuman, no crazy ninja skills (with the exception of Lisa Jo and her crazy social media ninja skills, and Jennifer’s time machine) ok, so maybe they are kind of super human but still very down to earth and fun to hang with just the same.

  3. Also, Thank You For Stooping By My Blog And Offering Your Encouragement. I Think During Kimberley’s Session You Said A Similar Thing About Coming Into It With A Blog Hierarchy In Mind. And Then You Spoke Your Fear Out Loud, And It Was My Fear Too. Being Unimportant. And Then We Both Knew It Was A Lie. That Was So Cool. You Are Important. To God And To Me. I Sat Behind You In Worship And When I Accidentally Dropped My Rock While We Sang (Completely Embarrassing) You Turned And Smiled At Me And It Was Okay. Thank You For That. 🙂

  4. Beautiful Janelle! I felt your journey, as I experienced it too! We CAN walk victoriously in our fear as we unfold God’s dream before us because we do NOT walk alone. Praise God! Thank you for your beautiful heart!

  5. So, so true, Janel – that we cast the first stones against OURSELVES with our very own hands. I think I realized that for the very first time this weekend, too.

    It was a pleasure to meet you and get to know you a bit – you’ve got a beautiful place (and wise, wise words) over here.

  6. Oh my goodness, Janel, this is so good. It took me a while to comment, because I got distracted with something {ahem}, but I had to tell you how beautiful this was and what it meant to me. I had the same exact experience. I’m sure we are different people with different struggles, and yet we are the same. Fear was one of the things I wrote down. And I am so glad it is being tossed into the deep recesses of that lake. Jennifer is my hero.

    I loved this: “sometimes the voice speaking loudest in the quiet, is not the quiet calm of my dear Saviour, but rather the Lie speaker pretending that truth comes from his mouth.”

    This spoke to me, because oh, he gets me with this, too, friend. I hope I see you at #concretewords. Don’t let him whisper in your ear and tell you that you’re not good enough. We are tired of the “Not Good Enoughs”, right? The prompt this week is the Sink–it’s at Kimberly Coyle’s blog. Next Monday, it’ll be back at my place– I’m not sure of the prompt yet, but I’ll announce it on facebook soon. Love to you.

  7. This blesses me so much, Janel. I returned from Jumping Tandem to soon be confronted by a grievous sin committed long ago by one I love. It’s been repented of many times, but raises its head again in shame and accusation. Your words here are truth and power and comfort . . to know that Jesus proclaims “Neither do I condemn you.” Thank you. So happy to have met you!

    • Kim- I read this now and hope you cast your stone far into that lake. When life’s messiness rears its head, muster your strength again to toss the rocks and have open palms to our Healer.

  8. Oh, Janel! No “gray carpet” here!!! You’re red carpet all the way. I knew we were sisters by heart. The story of the stones has touched my life in so many ways, shaping me AND shaping my ministry. Jesus knew the sin but He when He looked at the woman, that isn’t what He saw. He saw right through her sin to a woman so much in need of grace and acceptance. And in His gaze, she KNEW His words were true, “Neither do I condemn you…” Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart, Sister. Though there are miles and miles between us, we share the very same great big wonderful God.

  9. Janel… you spoke so much of how I feel, how I think, about myself as a writer here. Your words are heavy with truth and light with the freedom of grace and forgiveness and love. I am so happy that this is where you are arriving – as we always are – and that you are dropping those stones, friend. So powerful. You DO matter, and I love the glimpses I’ve had of your heart, and I know it touches people. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Amber, having you comment on my piece is very humbling for me. I think so highly of you and your own journey. I am blessed.
      I am glad that God has allowed me to use words (something that I love so much) to be able to make an attempt to describe where I am learning and growing. Thank you for sharing of your own journey so poignantly.

  10. I prayed for God to bring encouragement and refreshment to everyone at the retreat. Thanks for sharing this post. What a blessing! Jennifer is awesome, isn’t she? 🙂

  11. 3 weeks since #jtreat and my heart is now ready to read everyone’s link ups. Janel, for all your bravery on the phone, all your willingness to pursue His dream for you, carry on! You have great worth and will be used B(yes big B)eautiully!

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