Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, January 8

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water
And flint-stone into a flowing spring.
—Psalm 114:7-8

I collect rocks. On the coast of Maine, I spend hours looking at the enormous variety of rocks: all sorts of shapes, textures, and sizes.  Some are smooth, some jagged.  Some are pockmarked, some have fossils embedded in them, while others are one solid color. All of them feel good in my hand: I feel their warmth and strength. I hold them and remember the words of many psalms: The Lord is my rock and my salvation.

In this particular psalm, however, rocks take on another quality: hardness. The psalmist uses rocks metaphorically, symbolizing cold-heartedness and resistance. I remember a friend once telling me that her heart had turned to stone. She said it somewhat in jest, but I knew what she meant. Sometimes a heart of stone seems the only ballast against the storms of emotion that threaten to capsize us. 

At times hardness of heart seems the only way to survive. It is difficult to soften, to give in. It is hard to admit that we are wrong, or that we are tired, or that our hearts are broken, that we would rather be cold and hard than be hurt again. 

But the psalmist guides us here toward the only life worth living, one centered in God instead of in ourselves. It begins by breaking open, being soft and vulnerable. Broken open, we become filled with living water that comes from a source that does not dry up, does not harden. Most often, this awareness brings us to tears. Our tears are signs of that living water deep within us.

O God, you are my rock, my redeemer. Save me from hardness of heart, give me courage to let go of my death grip on my own life, and fill me with the life-giving water that flows only from your presence. Amen.