As a kid, I collected rocks. The obsession followed me into adulthood and my first youth ministry job in Tomball. I think I like rocks, ’cause to me, they aren’t just rocks, they represent stories, times in my life, memories, etc. The movie “With Honors” also features a guy who collects rocks as symbols of his life. Anyway, I took a few pictures and thought I’d share a few of them with you guys. I’ll start with the oldest ones and move through my life:
As a child, my parents took us on all kinds of short little weekend trips where we could discover the world around us. I remember taking shovels to dig up salt crystals (Oklahoma Salt Plains) and collecting “rose rocks” another time. Although the salt crystals didn’t survive my childhood, I still have a few of the “rose rocks.” They will always represent my childhood and the adventures my family would take us on.
The first individual rock I remember finding and keeping was a piece of pyrite (also known as “fools gold”) in the bottom of a creek in Yellowstone National Park. I’m not sure if I really found it or if my dad dropped it in the water before I arrived, but nevertheless, I became a “rock hound” that day. It was the summer of 1978 and I was 8yrs old.
After that my collecting became more intentional. I also spent lots of $$ (well lots for a kid) buying polished rocks from every souvenir shop we ever entered. I also used my collecting as an excuse to hit my parents up for “rock candy” every chance I got.
There are many more rocks I could show you, but these are quite possibly the most important. I found these fossils in Meridian State Park when I was in High School. These represent the greatest decision of my life. It was in that park that I began my relationship with Jesus Christ. I found them with my friend, Shayne Hackworth as we hiked around the lake with a group of friends. You just see rocks, but I can still picture the trail where we dug them up. I can still feel the weight of them in my pocket and remember the joy of my first days as a Christian. I’ll refrain from reminiscing more.
The next rock has a bit more of a story. When I was attending Texas A&M, I went on a canoeing trip with some great people from the Wesley Foundation. My friend Scott and I decided to climb the side of a cliff to crawl into a cave that we had seen. Once we were in, we couldn’t see the back of the cave, so we started throwing rocks to see if we could hear the back wall. One of the rocks slipped out of my hand and hit the ceiling which then crashed down in front of us. We realized then that the whole ceiling was crystal. We grabbed a few rocks and climbed out. I ended up using this rock many times throughout my Youth Ministry career to show students how the body of Christ works together. Each crystals fits perfectly with the others. Together, they make up the whole rock (Jesus is the Rock). If one crystal is removed, other crystals fall out. One time I was preaching and as I shared the story I dropped the stone on the ground in front of me. It broke. At first I was upset, but then I realized that the Body of Christ was broken for me too. Anyway, there’s are lots of great symbols in this one.
I found this rock on a beach in San Franscisco. I was with a group o youth ministers who were attending the National Youth Workers Convention. We had pooled our $$, rented a van, and taken a little trip to see the sites. I picked up this rock, cause I noticed the holes in it. Once I looked closer, I also noticed the small stone within one of those holes. I tried, but couldn’t dislodge the small stone from it’s position. If the rock is Jesus, then He was protecting that stone very well. It’s been at least 15yrs and that stone is still there. It remains because the larger stone remains. I think there’s a lesson in that for me. I will remain as long as I’m able to remain in in the hands of God.
The Fish Fossil was given to me by a student who was in the Youth Ministry in Tomball. Shane Sampson was the son of a science teacher and he and his dad actually dug this thing up. He contacted me on Facebook recently and to my surprise is very involved in doing ministry himself these days. He is an area director for Young Life – doing student ministry himself. This is not just a rock. It represents all the stories I’ve been able to hear from my ex-students about the things God is doing with them now.
I cannot speak of my rock collection without mentioning these. On January 3, 2004 I married my beautiful bride Miranda. We asked each of our guests to grab a stone as they entered the sanctuary. During the ceremony, we had them hold the stone and say a prayer for our marriage. You may see rocks, but I see prayers. I see friend and family who are encouraging us in our commitment to one another. I see hundreds of voices who joined together to request God’s intervention on our behalf. Our marriage has been great! The past year and my job/financial struggles have certainly tested us, but the truth is that we are probably stronger than ever in our love for one another. I believe these rocks are part of the reason why. Well, not really the rocks, but the prayers of our friends and family are priceless. They are able to touch us with God’s hand even when we don’t know we need a touch. This vase sits in our living room. I see them every day and I’m grateful for such amazing friends and reminders.
So there you have it. A few of the rocks in my collection. I have enjoyed this little walk through my life and hope somebody out there is actually still reading. (I probably should have started with my wedding rocks if I had wanted people to read about them, but. . .well, it is what it is.)