God is at work in the humdrum and repetitive tasks we perform. This is the Way of the Cross.

A Time to Gather Stones

Every year in late spring, we till up an admirable crop of rocks as we prepare the garden soil for planting. Some years I have been diligent about collecting them. Other years . . . not so much. Regardless, there always seems to be a plentiful supply, and after twenty plus years of gardening in this one space, one does wonder where all these rocks are coming from!

The deeper question, however, is always “why?” and Christians with our teleological view of nature are driven to press into the goal or purpose (in Greek, the telos) of  created things.

On this rural hill of sandy soil, whatever could be the design behind such an abundance of rocks working their way to the surface of our growing space every spring?

Falling into the category of “all things,” it’s possible, I suppose, that they join all the other “things” in the Romans 8:28-29 universe that “work together for good.” They are part of the constellation of “things” that, work toward the ultimate good God has in mind for His child:  conformity to the image of His Son.

It’s a sobering thought that my attitude toward the quotidian task of piling rocks into a rusty wheelbarrow makes one whit of a difference, but then, this seems to be the way of the following life. We are called to become small, to bend low, and to do the unseen and thankless task because this was the way of the Cross. The God Who makes the sun rise every day and Who has ordained that one season should follow another in unbroken rhythm has invited me into humdrum and repetitive tasks because, even in this, He is at work.

So, as I dump the smaller rocks into the ruts in our driveway or simply upend the entire contents of the wheelbarrow onto the growing rock pile in the bushes near the garden, God is at work in the invisible realm. He is at work in me.

I have a feeling that our supply of rocks won’t be running out anytime soon.
They still have a lot of work to do!


What evidence is emerging in your own world that God is at work in you?

Blessings to you as you lean into the process and rejoice in this season of transformation!

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

57 thoughts on “A Time to Gather Stones”

  1. Hmmm…. It’s true gardening is repetitive, humbling work. And I believe that’s precisely why Jesus used it in so many of His parables. Bearing fruit is meant to be repetitive, humble, service to our fellow man. Now, that’s something to chew on today! Blessings!

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  2. Michele, I love that picture, because we have rocks in our NC soil and in my life. What a picture of the need to submit to God’s tilling of our souls. There is always something that surfaces that needs to be removed in my attitude or outlook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The calling to bend low and to be small, to enter with joy into the thankless tasks and the hidden work of righteousness is always present, and it keeps us mindful of Jesus’ willingness to do whatever needed to be done so that we could know Him.
      Thanks, Deb, for reading!

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  3. This is such a powerful metaphor, Michele! I don’t do gardening now, but did help my parents on the farm I grew up on. In Ohio we seemed to have no that many rocks, but we still had them. I know how much trouble they could be when my dad was plowing the fields to plant crops in the spring if he came upon one. I think the Lord uses rocks and every other aspect of our lives here on earth as a nudge to look to Him for what He wants to reveal to us. In this seventh decade of life, I can say I am sure I have not even scratched the surface yet of all He wants to show me!

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  4. I have wondered that, too – how new rocks can appear in an area that was just cleared of them last year. And just recently I was discouraged by some mundane repetitive household task – I don’t even remember which one. Sometimes I think that if only I didn’t have so much of THIS stuff to do, I could get to the IMPORTANT stuff. Yet these must be important, too, if our lives are filled with so many of them. A friend in her first term on the mission field said that she was surprised at having to spend so much time in the kitchen. Everyday home duties seemed to take up a disproportionate amount of time for someone on a mission. God has His purposes in all tasks. Thanks for a window into a few of them today.

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    1. OH, the myth of “the IMPORTANT stuff!”
      I fall prey to that one, too!
      Self-maintenance and and housework take up so much of our lives, and I will confess that when I hear about someone’s great discovery or huge corpus of written work, I often say aloud, “Someone else is sorting his socks for him . . .” 🙂

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  5. What will you do with all of the rocks, Michele? Build a rock wall? Borders for your flower gardens? Repetitive tasks, even arduous ones like gathering rocks, do give you the opportunity to ponder, don’t they?

    I love the verse you got the title of this post from. It might be my favorite one. events. Hubby and I had it read at our wedding almost 40 years ago! It reminds me that I am not the one in charge – God works in His own time!

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  6. Wonderful thoughts, Michele. This reminded me of a somewhat different situation that involved rocks. A church was built next to our house several years ago, and the children would throw rocks into our yard from the gravel in their church parking lot. OH, my, it was a trial! We found out later they were throwing the rocks at our dogs! We would hit them when we were riding our riding lawnmower, and, of course, this would damage our blades. It was quite a trial, and we finally ended up having to call the pastor and her husband. They came and visited us in our home, and we had a wonderful three-hour visit! It turned out that they were some of the nicest folks, and we would never have gotten to know them had it not been for the rocks! God bless you!

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  7. I am visiting you today from the Grace & Truth linkup.
    Thank you for your post today. I’m scratching my head a bit over the concept of collecting rocks. Here in Georgia we just have hard red clay to dig through to make a garden. When we want rocks we have to order them and have them delivered. That’s a whole other set of Godly principles on which to ponder!
    Your post though makes me think of a time we had a truckload of rock delivered to our driveway and then tasked our teenage sons to move the rocks to the necessary location at the back of the yard. They were not thrilled with the task at hand, but they did it anyway. On one particular day as they each leaned forward, picked up a large rock, and threw it into the wheelbarrow they lost their rhythm and one son’s forehead was going down when a large rock in the other son’s hand was coming up. There was blood, a sizable bruise left behind, and forever a story to tell between brothers.

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    1. Lisa, this is absolutely fascinating to me, because I lived in Northeast Georgia for a couple of years when I was attending college there, and I still remember that red Georgia clay. In fact whenever I cook with Cayenne pepper, I always think of how the dirt along the sides of the road looked as if it should have a hot taste.
      But . . . I had never thought about the lack of rocks. (I wasn’t gardening in those days.)
      It makes sense though, because I noticed that the lakes and ponds often had a reddish cast to the water, which must have been because the small particles of clay dissolve into the water.
      Here, the lake bottoms are rocky, so the water stays clear.
      Smiling ruefully over your brother story. I have four sons, and I can imagine the same thing happening here!
      Thanks for sharing this encouraging comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michele, I love this post, and especially this quote, “We are called to become small, to bend low, and to do the unseen and thankless task because this was the way of the Cross. The God Who makes the sun rise every day and Who has ordained that one season should follow another in unbroken rhythm has invited me into humdrum and repetitive tasks because, even in this, He is at work.” You are so right, God is always at work in the midst of the mundane. He is with us every moment of everyday as we go about these humdrum and repetitive tasks, each step taking us closer and closer to that day when we step out of time and into eternity and into our Savior’s arms. Many blessings to you ❤️

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    1. So often we go charging into life with the idea that we will “do great things for God.” Some of the most godly people I know are faithfully showing up each day in the unseen tasks that God has called them to, experts in doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your rock analogy is my weed analogy. We are called to do the monotonous, but necessary because it is for the greater good.

    Weeds though in Tennessee. They are monsters to fight. God grant me patience….actually that’s the thing He’s working on most in me right now. Patience.

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  10. As a child we used to pick up rocks every Saturday morning out of our yard. I always wondered how there could always be more each week. 😉 I’m thankful that God never tires of working on us each week! I need his persistence.

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  11. I love the whole idea of wondering about the purpose of those rocks. This could really get my mind going in a million directions, lol! Yes, it all works for good, and I’m looking forward to God explaining every bit of it to me someday! 😂

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    1. So much of God’s will is a mystery to me. Like you, I look forward to understanding, but in the meantime, I don’t want my lack of understanding to diminish my appreciation for what He’s up to.

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  12. Visiting today from Mommy Moments link up Michele, its our winter here in Australia, the deciduous trees are in their rest & restoration time…in this time of chronic ill health… Just like the trees I feel God has me in a time of rest & restoration.

    Remember you’re always welcome to drop by for a cuppa,
    Jennifer

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    1. It’s so good to have Southern Hemisphere friends who remind me that the world is a diverse place even in terms of seasons.
      Enjoy your dormancy, and know that God is at work, even in the times of unseen and uncelebrated growth.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is a great reminder that God is at work even in the ordinary and seemingly mundane things of life. It makes a big difference to recognise that and look for where he is working.

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  14. God does, indeed, work all things together for good. Especially when we take time to ponder even the small, mundane tasks that make up so much of our days and seek Him and the lessons He has for us.

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    1. What I find to be most reassuring is that He is always at work–unrelentingly and endlessly determined to bring about our holiness. The real challenge comes in our cooperation with Him.

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  15. Ohhhhh those pesky rocks! Where do they come from???

    What a good visual reminder of God’s way to work it all for His good. Even when we don’t understand.

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  16. Your post really rang true this morning. When I retired, I never expected to sit around doing nothing. I had lots of plans, but I somehow expected life to be at a more relaxed pace and work to be easier. Ha! Apparently, there are still a lot of rocks for me to unearth, too!

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  17. Michele, we all have rocks in our lives that need moving, don’t we? Those things that need to be done in order to make way for growth in us . . . or in a garden. 🙂

    I so appreciate the reminder that, even in the mundane tasks of life, God is at work.

    Beautiful words, my friend.

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  18. Had to smile when i read your post. Every year when tilling our garden in the spring, he will pick up a rock that he finds and hold it up… “last one,” he says. “I finally got the last one!” yeah. no. there is always an abundant supply of rocks for God purge from our lives too. thanks for sharing!

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  19. Michelle, your words touched my soul in a way that I still am wondering about. Some pondering about the ever-growing rocks in the garden bed, the ever-growing pile…the ways of God, humbleness, the lessons God is and needs to teach me. Thank you, sweet friend. I am going through a major life change right now and am so open to God’s direction and His hands upon me all of the time. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  20. I thought for a moment you had somehow gotten a photo from my phone of all the rocks in my daughter’s wheelbarrow! Her recently completed house (not quite small enough to qualify as a ‘tiny’ house, but pretty small!) has a very uncompleted yard–they have a half-acre, and purchased some trees to plant in the spring. Now they have piles and piles of rocks. She made beautiful flowerbeds out of some of them–but I think enough remain to pave a driveway or build a small house ;). I think God wants us to use those rocks that come to the surface to build things and do things (whether literal rocks or not).

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    1. I’ve run out of things to do with my rocks as well, so I just keep picking them out of my garden and dumping them out of sight. And I think you’re right about those metaphorical rocks. They are the real obstacle.

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  21. Michele, I am amazed at how you are able to teach us even from a pile of rocks. Thanks so much for bringing out the truth that God is always at work. No task is menial when done for his glory. Blessings to you! xo I’m choosing your post as my favorite from the week and will feature it on my blog. 🙂

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