December 2, 2008

Standing on the Solid Rock

Some claim a strong spiritual heritage. Their parents and grandparents lived a deep faith in Jesus Christ, and they also follow that faith. My mother’s faith was weak. Because Dad didn’t believe in Jesus until late in life, she seemed like a boat without an anchor. She was uncomfortable attending church without him and obviously needed his partnership in the faith to help her discern many spiritual matters.

Because Mom was often confused, I and my siblings lost our childhood interest in religion by the time we became teenagers. But she prayed for us. Her mother, also a Christian, prayed for us. Three out of the four now follow the Lord and we still have hope for the one who does not.

I thought of this history when I read today’s devotional verse. It says, “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug” (Isaiah 51:1).

While this passage could refer to the heritage of the Jews in their patriarch, Abraham, I really like what the author of my devotional book, Ears from Harvested Sheaves, did with this. He said (and I edited it to make it personal):
The Lord, by the pen of His prophet, turns my eyes to my native origin. And what is that? Is it not the same quarry out of which the other stones come? Other believers and I, by God’s grace, are “living stones” and come out of the same quarry along with the spiritually dead, unbelieving, unregenerate world. In that respect, there is no difference. In fact, Christians have perhaps sunk lower in the quarry than some of those in whom God never has and never will put His grace. It is not the upper stratum, called “the capstone,” of the quarry, that is taken and hewn into a pillar. Miners go deep into the pit to get at the marble that will be chiseled into ornamental columns.

So it is with God’s people. We do not lie at the top of the quarry, but the Lord has to go down very low to bring these stones up out of the depths of the fall into sin. He lifts us out of deeper degradation than those which lie closer to the surface.

A Portland quarryman was asked about the hard labor of getting out the stone. He said, “It is enough to heave our hearts out.” The stone lay so deep and required such severe bodily exertion, that the laborer was forced to thrown not only all his weight, sinews, and muscles into the work, but his very heart also.

So it is with the elect of God. We have sunk so low, in such awful depths of degradation and at such an infinite distance from God, and are so hidden and buried from everything good and godlike, that it required all the strength and power of Jehovah to lift us out of the pit. In raising us from the quarry of our sinful nature, He spent all His heart upon us, for in saving us the heart of God was manifested in the incarnation of His only-begotten Son. I was lifted from the pit and hewn from the rock by the work, righteousness, sufferings, blood, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God does not need spiritual heritage to change stone into pillars of righteousness. Each generation is challenged to believe and enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, there are no ‘grandchildren’ in the family of God. The transformation of becoming His child is accomplished by the work of His Son. Having Christian parents and other family who support my faith is a great asset, yet the greater power is a deep relationship with the One who dug me out of that pit of sin and set my feet on the Solid Rock — His Son in whom I trust.

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