The Quarry of God
Mar 31, 2019 06:32AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I was sitting across the table from a good friend, sharing what I felt God was doing in my life—and how painful, but healthy, it was.
She’s the wise type, sitting there tuned in as an active listener, simultaneously praying, and waiting on God to speak to her. Sometimes I stare at her for a full two minutes before she responds. I'll admit it was unnerving the first few times I experienced it.
And do you know why I love this so much?
Because she measures every single word that comes out of her mouth. It’s never flippant, casual, dismissive, arrogant, or half-hearted. She feels the intensity of every spoken word. And as they flow very slowly from her mouth, there is a soothing tone to them. It makes me feel so safe. It’s the exact reason I go to her for wisdom: Because she loves God more than she loves me and listens intently to Him, and because when she speaks, even correction, it has His loving kindness on it.
“I feel like I'm being scraped from the inside-out right now. This has been one intensely painful year. I feel like God is scraping my insides out.”
She stopped me right there, cocked her head, and said: “What do you mean?”
I replied: “He is digging out old wounds that no longer belong there. He wants to set me free.”
With that, I could see her shoulders relax. She knew what I meant—not that God was hurting me but rather that He was cleansing me. Restoring me. Helping me to let go of junk I was holding onto that was no longer relevant or part of who I am supposed to be.
I wish I could say the process was like a nice micro-abrasion cleanser, you know, the one with the gritty feel to it? But this? This was more significant than that analogy allows.
This was more of a rock-polishing-a-rock. It’s going to eventually produce a smooth stone, but until it does, I keep scraping myself against the edges, getting nicked and scratched. And like a rock wearing away at another rock, it takes time. It can’t be rushed. It’s a process.
When I was doing a study of the word “stone” in the Bible, I came across this gem:
1 Kings 6:7, ESV
When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.
Here, Solomon had begun the work of building God’s holy temple. Interestingly enough, the stones were prepared ahead of time at the quarry. Biblical scholars have various interpretations on this point, but some conclude that the hammering away at the rocks was done separately from the construction site out of reverence for God.
What I caught out of it was that the stone had to be prepared first before being used to build.
It’s not that different with us, it would seem. Our sharp edges, whatever they may be, need chiseling and shaping as God chooses to use us.
Maybe it’s our personality, our way of communicating, the negative voices in our head, wrong things we have been told about ourselves or God, sinful attitudes, unforgiveness, etc. But before God can use us to build His kingdom, where He welcomes in all who believe with open arms, He shapes us along the way. He prepares us.
Solomon was building the house of God in Old Testament times, before God sent His Son Jesus on our behalf. Once we accept Jesus as the Savior God sent, His Holy Son, the Bible is pretty clear that the Holy Spirit then comes to us, and we therefore become God’s living temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17, ESV
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
See the beautiful connection there?
If He is building us into His temple, He has to smooth us—one stone at a time. He takes that heartache, loss, failed relationship, struggle, temptation, and failure, and redeems it. He sanctifies us through the process.
But here’s the catch:
We have to believe, and we have to offer it to Him. We have to offer ourselves to Him.
He will work those things for good purposes, smoothing each stone at a time as He lays the foundation in our lives, but only if we submit it to Him.
Romans 8:28, ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Maybe it’s helpful to think of the flip side.
Let’s take those same items in question—heartache, loss, failed relationship, struggle, temptation, and failure—and consider what happens when we hang onto even just one of them.
Perhaps we offer Him that heartache (disappointment, disillusionment, unmet expectation, etc.) and ask Him to transform it. And we see it shift. We see a polished surface forming where once there was only edge.
That, for sure, is a stone He can use.
But suppose while we give Him that heartache, we hold onto a temptation. We try to hide it. We won’t surrender it, and it therefore turns to sin.
Well, He puts the stone He has transformed (heartache) into place in us as a great witness to who He is, but that sin—well, it could be redeemed into an area of obedience—but not if we have not given it to Him yet. Not if we’re still hiding it. (Spoiler: He can see it anyway!) So, now there’s a rock with sharp edges that cannot be placed in His holy temple, and not only is it missing from the building, but it hurts people when it remains a rock. It cuts and scrapes, wreaking havoc.
See what I mean? That ongoing temptation needs to be laid upon His altar and offered into God’s quarry.
Only then can it turn into the smooth stone it was meant to be in His temple.
So, I’ve decided to yield to the process. Whenever I have given one of my rocks to God, turning it over to His quarry, He has faithfully returned it as sanctified and something upon which He can build.
So when my friend inquired as to what I meant by scraping, I meant God was digging out old junk so He could polish that rock. He was taking old abandonment pain and running it through His quarry.
He was chiseling new life into dead stone.
If you need new life today, first, make sure you’ve invited Jesus into your life as your Savior, recognizing what He did for you on the cross to be the sacrifice for your (and my) sins. Then, ask Him to show you how to give Him those rocks you’ve been carrying around. Ask Him to create a clean heart within you.
He is faithful to lay a lasting foundation, and if you genuinely offer Him your broken rocks, He will return them smooth and refined, imbued with His purpose and eternal value.
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.