Will the Stones Cry Out?
He lurched through the doors of the tent revival like a man whose skeleton had been folded in half.
The Haitian man can’t stand upright, so he hobbles while bent over at the waist. Under his arm that day, he carried two old pieces of cardboard. And that was nearly all he had — two dirty pieces of cardboard with the words “Feed My Starving Children.”
The music had lured the lame and the deaf and the broken people of shaken Haiti under a tent of praise. They’d lost what little they had, yet they lifted voices and hands in worship. The bent old man stopped near the back, dropped his dirty cardboard mat to the floor and lay on it while he praised.
My friend, Ruth — an Iowan on mission to Haiti — watched it all. Ruth was in the tent when the man stumbled in. And now that Ruth is back in Iowa, she told me the story of this old man, who teaches us what it means to worship, even in the midst of pain.
“Jennifer,” she said, tears welling in her eyes, “that man just laid right down on that mat, and the music was going, and he curled up on that cardboard, and raised his hand up to Jesus.”
“That man had nothing — nothing but old pieces of cardboard,” Ruth told me. “But he was praising God with everything within him.”
And I think how little my worship, how small my praise.
I want for nothing, yet I fail to praise Him as I should for the abundance that is my life.
Sometimes, the Spirit will move inside this soul, prompting my own spirit to raise a hand in praise, but the flesh keeps these hands at my sides. Why? Why do I resist Christ in me?
I don’t know what it is to worship — not really. Not compared to the man on the cardboard mat.
I wonder: Will the rocks break out in praise while I stand here so hushed?
And I think about the Pharisees, who told Jesus on Palm Sunday: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
Jesus answered: “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
On Sunday morning, I raised a palm branch in the air — waving adoration — as we led 14 children around the sanctuary of little country church. I lifted high the branch, and this week, I lift high my heart.
I think of the man on the cardboard mat.
Even more, I think of the God-Man on the cross.
How can I keep silent? How can I keep from singing?
All creation sings Your praise, Father. And I shall join the chorus.
Photo: Palm branches from our Sunday service. We will let these branches dry and curl on the edges. And on Thursday, the branches will decorate the table of our Messianic Passover table. The dying branches will remind us that only days earlier, we were shouting “Hosanna” and waving palms. Yet the same voices will shout “Crucify Him” while waving fists.
Dear friends, what does real worship look like to you as we journey from the palms to the cross? Where have you seen or experienced the sort of worship that keeps the rocks silent?
UPDATE (Tuesday night): Ruth just sent me this photo of her group praying over the man on his cardboard mat.
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Jennifer – this was awesome! It was our sermon yesterday.
Let me tell you – our revival totally ROCKED last week. We had some mighty fine worship goin' on in our sanctuary that indeed kept those rocks silent! It was such an amazing outpouring of the Spirit and we worshiped over 3 hours each night. God was so present and so mighty and we have been awakened from our slumber!
Our abundance — can it be both blessing and curse?
How often I let it cloud my eyes to the richness that is simply Who He is. I look far too often to what He does.
Perhaps the man whose earthly treasure totalled two pieces of corrugated paper has captured this: the Who, not the what.
I have a lump in my throat thinking about that man….but I am rejoicing at the thought of the bountiful treasure that awaits him in Heaven.
Great stuff as always Jennifer.
People might think I'm crazy and I might end up in a straight-jacket…but I'm so happy and full of Joy that I want to run around all day Sunday yelling HE LIVES!!!
That's worth crying out about!
(might need you to round up some bail money later)
What a precious example that is …
I really needed to read this today. Thank you!! xoxo LA
Amen and Amen dear sister!
Thank you for sharing this powerful message with us today.
The walk from the Palms to the Cross is an amazing one…my heart is deeply humbled in the LORD.
Amen…praise the Lord!
what a great reminder of this season. I love the dry branches being used all week…what a beautiful symbol of that first Holy week. Have a blessed Resurrection day.
We warm the heart of God with our praise. He needs it, He wants it, He deserves it…our praise…our lives.
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I love the verse about the rocks crying out. It blows my mind to think about that!
"…how little my worship, how small my praise." What a great line, and so true for me sometimes. And I wonder why God will sometimes take away from me. Perhaps so I can see more of Him?
Loved this, Jennifer.
What an amazing post. How true your statement I think for all of us, that we don't worship like the man on the cardboard. We take so much for granted. Thank you for the sobering reminder to not let the rocks cry out in our stead!
Real worship seems to happen in the oddest places and times. Like in my car, driving to town, or when I fall facefirst on the really-needs-a-good-vacuum rug by my bed. That transparency before God just isn't always there in corporate worship.
We recently watched a video at our church…about a group of people in a remote place…we were blessed to get to watch the Gospel be introduced to them in their language.
It took the missionary three months worth of teaching thru God's Word to get them to Christ's salvation…and there wasn't a dry eye in the house as we watched these "backwards" people rejoice upon realizing that they too can be saved…that, at that moment, their acceptance of Christ meant that they WERE indeed saved…
They leaped in the air, they dropped to their knees as they cried out, they carried each other around, they hugged and cried and sang and jumped and prayed…and all I could think as I watched them thru tear-blurred vision was: "When was the last time I actually CELEBRATED my salvation???"
My answer was a sobering reality…never. Never once as these people did ~ and then I cried even harder.
Beautiful, Miss Jennifer…as always.
Real worship is when you are totally in connection with our Lord and praising Him in all His glory. Anywhere or anytime. I really enjoyed read through your blog. God bless, Lloyd