At Judson’s graveside service, each person was given a stone. We were told to hold our stone throughout the service; at the end we would build a small monument to commemorate God’s power and grace reflected in the life of our Jud. Part of the process would be letting go of our stone as a symbolic act of letting go of Jud, releasing him into the arms of Jesus.
Clearly, Judson was already gone, already in the presence of his Maker, but I needed to release him in my heart. I remember running my thumb over the smooth sides of my rock, back and forth, not wanting to lay down my stone, not wanting to let go of Judson.
But I did.
As I placed my stone amongst the other stones, it became apparent that this was as an act of submission-a willingness to relinquish not only Jud, but to submit my whole life to my Father, even when it entails searing pain.
There, by Judson’s open grave, was a pile of rocks, celebrating his life and pointing to the character of his Creator. This stone monument was placed in Jud’s vault before it was lowered into the ground.
When we arrived home that day, November 13th, 2007, we had a basket still filled with stones. I decided to use the leftover stones to build a similar memorial outside our front door. As I placed each stone, I considered once again what they symbolized-letting go. And the completed altar would serve as a reminder, each time I saw it, of God’s grace in our lives.
This last week, Jessie and I have been playing outside a great deal. These stones, near our door, have occupied much of her time. She will pick them up one by one, bring them over to where I am seated, and slowly recreate the stone monument. Then I will move myself to a new location and she will go through the whole routine again. She finds great pleasure in rebuilding the altar of rocks again and again, sometimes several times a day.
This rebuilding of the altar seems symbolic of my need to continually let go of Judson, submitting my whole self to my Creator. It is not a one-time exercise. Just as Jessie is literally reconstructing this memorial of rocks, I need to figuratively rebuild this monument in my heart, many times each day. And as I submit and let go, may I see reminders of the grace and power of almighty God.