By Dr. Mark Creech
There is a story of yesteryear about a great and wise king who was always looking for effective ways to teach his people about good citizenship.
He once said, “Nothing good can come to a nation where people constantly complain and expect others to solve their problems. God gives the good things of life to those who take responsibility for its challenges.”
One quiet night, while everyone was sleeping, the king ventured onto a road near his palace and placed a large stone in its way. He then hid behind a hedge to observe what would happen.
First, a farmer came with a wagon heavily loaded with grain, which he was taking to the mill to be ground. Seeing the big stone in the road, he said crossly, “Well, whoever saw such carelessness?” As he turned his team and drove around the stone, he quipped with disdain, “Why don’t these lazy people have that thing moved from the road?” And so he moved on complaining of the bad situation and the uselessness of others, but never touched the stone himself.
Afterward, a young soldier came down the road. He was singing, while the long plume in his excellent cap waved in the breeze and a magnificently well-polished sword dangled at his side. He was thinking of the prestige of his position and the bravery he would show in war.
Not seeing the stone in the road, he struck his foot against it and went stumbling face-first into the dirt. He rose to his feet, shook himself off, retrieved his sword, and started to swear against the “idiots who had no more sense than to leave a stone in the middle of the road.” Then he walked away, never thinking for a moment he ought to move it himself.
So the day passed and each person who came upon the stone bitterly grumbled, many faulting the king and his court, but not a person – not even one sought to move the heavy impediment.
At last, just before the sun went down, the Miller’s daughter came past. She was an industrious young woman who worked hard, and she was very tired this particular day because she had been laboring for long hours at the mill. Still, she said to herself as she came upon the stone in the road, “It is surely almost dark and this stone may cause someone an injury in the night, I will move it out of the way.”
So she pulled and tugged and struggled for quite some time to move the heavy stone. No one came along to help her. When she finally lifted it from its place, to her surprise, she found a beautiful box beneath the stone. As she lifted the box, she could feel that it was heavy with something. Upon the box were written the words: “This box belongs to the one who moves the stone.”
She slowly opened the lid, and found the box was full of gold.
The Miller’s daughter went home exuberant. When the farmer and the soldier and others heard about what had happened, they rushed to where the stone had been and started scratching in the dust of the road, hoping to turn up a piece of gold. They found nothing.
Then the king revealed himself from behind the hedge, saying, “Citizens, we often find obstacles, hardships and challenges in the way. We may bitterly complain about them, we may fault someone else for them, or we may simply choose to avoid them. Nevertheless, if we will take personal responsibility, if we employ our strength with the help of God, we can lift them and discover their meaning. Underneath is gold – riches of opportunity.”
With this said; the wise king mounted his horse and, with a courteous farewell, rode away.
Today there are many heavy stones in the road, many challenges for the church, many problems for both our state and nation, while Christians just bitterly complain. They curse the darkness, but offer no light. They see our country in the greatest moral free-fall of its history, yet they only talk about how much better things used to be as compared to how bad they are now.
Ironically, living where the state is “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” Christians often simply blame what’s wrong in public life on their officials, while also failing to recognize that those same officials are but a reflection of their own complicities.
Some Christians are in places of power and could actually make a difference, but instead they sit Lot-like in the gates of Sodom.
Christians today are always interpreting negative current events and pointing to them as signs the Second Coming of Christ is imminent, but also forgetting what a shame it would be if there Lord comes and finds them not diligently working to make life better now.
None of us knows when our great King shall appear. Although it may be soon, it could still be quite a while. In the meantime, there are stones in the road that need to be moved – stones that in the darkness of the hour threaten our fellow man and the purposes of God. It will take sacrifice, pain, and much struggle to move them, but under each one there is gold to be discovered – new and incredible opportunities to be won – riches to be gained for Christ’s sake.
The King of kings watches to see who will move the stone in the road.
The story of The Stone In the Road was drawn from: Bennett, William J. The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life’s Journey. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. Pg. 613