Roughly fifteen years ago, I went to a church camp with some friends. The speaker punctuated longer sermons with timed nature hikes, affording us a chance to reflect on what we just heard. The hikes seemed like a really cool idea until I remembered that there was gravel literally everywhere outside. My metallic steed takes great exception to such terrain; it is a picky beast. I thought I’d be clever and minimize the ordeal and sit reflectively on a log I had seen earlier on my way in. Sadly, it was not as close as I thought it was. The trek, made up of repetitive lifting of the walker over half a foot of gravel before taking half a step to close the distance, took a billion years! I arrived at the log all sweaty and tired, only to reconvene immediately back inside for the next session. Annoyed and frustrated, I plodded my way back. Between you and me, I was not feeling very reflective. In fact, I felt very alone. I looked at this one pebble sitting happily right in front of my walker wheel, and I thought, “No one will ever know about this pebble. No one will see how it frustrates and embarrasses me.”
Then God impressed on me that he knew all about that particular pebble and all the other malevolent pebbles that would prevent my walker from sliding. He knew everything about my situation. He witnessed it from every angle and knew precisely how annoying it was. I was not alone! I arrived late to the next session and despite my best efforts, failed to sneak inconspicuously into the back row. God didn’t prevent any of it from happening, rather he lived through it with me.
I remember that dumb pebble very clearly. The other details fade, but that one pebble remains crystal clear in my memory. In many ways, it has become a monument to God’s nearness and compassion for me.
Likewise, in Genesis 28, we find Jacob, lacking even sparse accommodations, laying his head down to sleep on a rock, which would undoubtedly be very uncomfortable. While he slept, God revealed a fantastic dream proclaiming his plans for Jacob and his descendants. Upon waking, he builds a pillar to memorialize the dream and in fact, he includes the pillow stone in its construction. Like my pebble, his pillow reminded him of something other than the discomfort it caused at the time. Take a second and revisit your monuments and thank the Lord for giving you reason to build them.