“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” –Luke 3:7-8
“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’
‘I tell you,’ He replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” Luke 19:39-40
A couple of years ago, I bought a Betta fish and named her Julie Andrews. Poor Jules didn’t survive the first night. So the next day, I took Julie Andrew’s fishy little corpse back to Pet Smart and traded her in for Johnny Depp (AKA Betta Version Beta). Johnny did not make it through the week. I took his fishy little corpse back to Pet Smart and got my money back. I was done with grieving dead celebrity-named fish. In fact, after that, I strongly considered just getting a pet rock. It’s hard to kill something that’s never been alive.
It doesn’t get much more lifeless than a rock.
I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors lately, so I’ve seen a lot of rocks. They sit there, looking…rocky. They’re nice to look at sometimes, but they don’t do anything. The rest of nature? It’s alive! Puffy clouds catch the sunlight, looking so peaceful and perfect as they float in the blue, blue sky. Large birds soar overhead, while little birds flitter from tree to tree. Squirrels rush around acting squirrelly. Flowers sway in the breeze, painting the green grass with tiny bursts of color and beauty. Butterflies and bumblebees dance from flower to flower, chasing the wind, enjoying the wonder of being alive, just doing what they were created to do.
Nature is alive with praise.
All living things have been given God’s breath—the birds and bees and even the squirrelly squirrels are praising God just by doing the simple things they’re created to do. They don’t have too much of a choice about it. They do what they do because God has made them the way He has made them. They praise God just by being alive.
But we do have a choice.
I forget sometimes what a privilege it is to even be able to praise the Lord. I have the breath of God inside of me. Without it? I’m nothing more than dust—as lifeless as a rock. Sometimes I squander that precious breath on such trivial things—things meant to build up my pathetic kingdom instead of God’s Kingdom.
Other times, I forget a very simple truth and start allowing myself to believe a very tricky lie. I allow myself to believe that God needs me, that I’m something special, that I have to do things because I’m important to the work God is doing.
But God doesn’t need me.
And God doesn’t need you.
If we chose not to praise God, or if we fail in our attempts to serve God, God would not cease to be God. God doesn’t need us to be His servants, and He doesn’t need us to praise Him. He doesn’t need anything. But if God needed servants or needed praises, He could raise servants and worshippers out of the rocks. The lifeless rocks.
God doesn’t need praise. He desires it and is worthy of it because of who He is. And we were created not because God had a need for us, but because He desires us. He doesn’t need us; He’s chosen us. He wants us. He LOVES us. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a lot better to be loved than to be needed. It changes my perspective. I don’t have to be great and constantly fight to maintain my own greatness. God isn’t going to love me any more or any less whether I succeed or fail. He just loves me—without degree or condition—and that love doesn’t change depending on what I do. God doesn’t love me because I’m something amazing; He loves me because He’s something amazing. …and the awesome thing is that through His amazing love, I too become amazing. God doesn't change, but through Him, I am changed. He's constantly working on me and in me to make me more like Him.
I started out as dust, as lifeless as a rock. That humbles me. It also helps me realize how wonderful God is.
He is able to give life to nothingness. He has given us His breath, made us in His image to glorify Him. We have a spark of His awareness and creativity inside of us. Out of all creatures, He has given humanity the ability to choose whether or not we will serve and praise Him. Out of all creatures, He’s offered us the choice to come and work alongside Him—not because we’re needed, but because He’s gracious enough to offer such a grand and glorious thing.
I’m thankful for His faithfulness. I’m thankful for His conviction. I’m thankful for the beauty of nature and the ability to see His hand in all of it. I’m thankful that He has given me life, inspiring the dust to move and live and breathe for His glory. I’m thankful for the power that is able to raise worshippers from stones, for the power that is able to roll stones away from graves, and for the fact that this power is at work in me.
I’m grateful for the Living Rock that makes all other life possible. If Abraham’s children are raised from the stones, I pray I might join their number. If the rocks cry out, I pray I might join their songs of praise.
He is worthy.
And I’m just humbled and amazed that One so mighty would want me for His child.