There Will Be Rocks.
Fraught with Peril and Dirt-Throwing.
A parched road stretches onward and upward before you, the sound of weary hooves plodding their way beneath you up the mountainside.
Everyone with you is silent. Lost, no doubt, in the struggle inside of them—just like you. You’re soul-weary, strength-drained, and battling for breath through grief. If you can just keep going, just make it to the top of this mountain…
Ouch! Your hand flies to your arm. What was that?
What on earth–? That one really hurt! Was that a rock?
No. Not one rock. Scads of them, pelting at you, right past all the barriers you’ve set up for protection, hitting their mark. And then comes the real blow: the words.
Have you been there? Pouring all you have into every step before you on a mission that justifies all the very most dramatic sayings we have about journeys:
“Fraught with peril.”
Opporunities-a-plenty to beg our comrades to
“Save yourselves! Go on without me!”
…sacrificing in order to obey, and then come the blows.
King David was there. More than once, really, but there is one instance that sticks out in my mind today—one brought to my attention by something my dad shared during a Bible study years ago. It’s about a fellow named Shimei, who takes it upon himself to pelt rocks at David and his men on the road, cursing David with all he has in him. David, who was already dealing with his own son’s betrayal of him and finding his life at stake at every turn. You can read the full account here, but take a look at this part from the very end, in 1 Samuel 16:13-14…
“So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.”
This was after the initial round of pelting and cursing. This was after David’s men proposed they do something about it, put a stop to it. But David—already battling his own son’s betrayal of him (v. 11)- said no. He said (v. 12), “It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing…today.”
And David kept moving, and the rocks kept coming. (But take heart! It gets better from here…)
In life, rocks can come in so many forms. Thoughtless words, the speaker never even aware of the way they pierce you. Aimed words, hitting their mark, deep and sharp. Silence, even, when you’re desperate to hear something. Devastating blows, enough to cripple us sometimes.
Isn’t there a part of you that just rails against the rock-throwing? Both in your own life, and here in David’s. You want to cry out at the injustice: Have you any idea what this has cost, to travel a road that lays one open to ridicule? You want them to see the scars, the still-open wounds. Have you any idea what David is facing? And you’re throwing rocks??
But beneath the clamor of our heart’s outcry, there’s a deeper question. We want to know how to keep going. How, how, how, when it’s taking everything in you just to stay upright, take a single step, and you can’t see your way to ever making it to the top of this mountain?
David, in the midst of Shimei’s outpouring of wrath, chose to fix his eyes on the road, on the steps he was called to, and on the One who had called him. He chose to keep going. To let God handle that man, and refuse to let himself be deterred by the rocks and sharp words. To simply do what was next. He continued until they arrived at the top of the mountain, the end of that arduous journey fraught with peril.
I love when that passage above says “David and his men continued.” He did all he could do: continue. One step at a time, doing what God called him to do, regardless of the ruckus and turmoil and pain Shimei was causing. Because of that, his choice to continue, he reached his destination, he achieved what he was called to in that moment, he left the job of restoration in the hands of His mighty God. And in that knowledge, he was refreshed. They arrived exhausted… and they were refreshed.
So many of you are facing uphill climbs that go beyond “arduous.” In all seriousness, I watch you facing the giants you are facing, with a faith even bigger and a courage even stronger, and I am in awe.
I see the way you fix your eyes on Him, the way you draw strength to carry on, and I learn from you. I see the way you carry your scars to the nail-scarred hands and make way for healing. I see the vulnerability it takes to press on, and I see how that vulnerability is made rock-strong yet tender still in Him, Our Rock.
So before I sign off, I simply want to say… if you’re in the middle of a rock-shower, know that you are being prayed for… that your restoration and refreshing, like David’s, are in the hands of a mighty God who will never leave your side. Because I see His strength, refuge, and purpose living and breathing in you, I wonder– would you share in the comments… how do you find refreshing and renewal in Him, especially when the rocks come?