Forrest Gump is the life story of a physically and mentally challenged man (Tom Hanks), who accomplishes the incredible with his simple reasoning and persistence.
In one scene, Forrest and his childhood friend Jenny are walking down an old gravel road shaded by hardwood trees. Jenny carries her sandals, and the walk seems pleasant until they happen upon an abandoned, weather-worn house. The sight is horrifying to Jenny. It is her childhood home, a place where Jenny had been abused by her alcoholic father.
Forrest sees the pain etched on Jenny’s face as she walks ahead of him toward the old abandoned house. Suddenly, Jenny throws her shoes at the house and then begins picking up rocks and furiously throwing them towards the house. Years of pent up anger are unleashed. When nothing is left to throw, Jenny falls to the ground crying. Forrest sits down in the muddy driveway beside her, and says, “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks”.
I am not telling you something new when I say that there are probably some folks reading this who would like to throw a few rocks.
Maybe not at the house that they grew up in and felt pain, maybe they would like to throw a few rocks at the cancer they just found out about. Maybe a rock at a dissolving relationship that no one knows about. Maybe you would throw the rock at depression or at the pain that can’t even be named.
Let Jesus encourage you with these words.
“… To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Rev. 2:17
In the Bible, names are very important. It has to do with a person’s identity. And if they get a new name, it meant they were going to get a new identity, or a new destiny.
Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Simon became Peter.
A new name is coming your way. Not a new label but a new identity; a new character. It’s about you becoming a creature of unimaginable splendor.
But you’re not going to just get a new name…a new secret name. This is about intimacy with God. In close relationships, people often give each other private names. It’s a way of saying, “I have a special connection with you. You are special.”
New names can mark your life and go to deep places in your soul.
Several years ago I took my oldest boys backpacking in the mountains that I grew up in south central Colorado. We went to some very remote alpine lakes named Deadman. In order to get there it takes two days of intense hiking and climbing with full packs of about 60 pounds over a 13,200 foot pass. Once you get above tree line there are no trails. The air is remarkably thin. We cross a narrow ridge no wider than your kitchen table with a 1,000 foot steep drop on one side and a 1,500 foot drop on the other. From the look of the unweathered rock lightning likes to strike this narrow part of the ridge so you need to time your passage over it to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.
The ground is so steep in places that you can reach out your hand perpendicular to your body and touch the ground that you will be walking on in a few minutes. On our descent I have often gotten blisters on the tops of my toes from the friction inside my boots.
But when you get to these lakes they are breath taking. Only about 6-8 parties make the trip to the lakes per year, therefore the cutthroat trout fishing is some of the best in Colorado. It is truly a pristine wilderness experience. It is a painful and invigorating place.
I first went there when I was about 13 years old with my dad and brother. And since that time I have gone back about some 20 times and five years ago I took my oldest two boys, and my dad. At that time he was 65 years old.
We experienced a great week of fishing and exploring. We decided to come out a different way than we went in because my Dad’s knee was weak and hurting. It was a route we had only heard about but never tried. All went well until we came across a cliff wall about 75 feet high. I searched and searched for an easy way down. There was no easy way down. I rarely get anxious in the mountains, but with the responsibility of these boys and my Dad, I admit I was nervous.
Finally, I found a cut in the rock that had been filled with snow. I decided to kick step holes in the steep snow wall. I descended with my pack and left it at the bottom. Then I went back up the 75 foot climb, careful to position my feet in the same holes I had made coming down. I put one of my boy’s backs on my back and then kicked stepped under him, helping him put his boots in the exact step. Step by step by step all the way down. Then at the bottom put the pack down and climb up and get another pack for another boy. First Cole, Clint, and then Ian all successfully ferried down the snow ribbon.
The only person left was my father who had watched me carry the boys’ packs down one by one. I sat down beside him at the top of that cliff. We didn’t say a word to each other. We just sat there. Then he said, “You are really good with those boys. You made them feel safe in a dangerous situation” I said thanks. Then we just sat there staring at Sand Creek Valley stretching out before us as if we had no place to go. The boys were below us laughing and enjoying the last rush of adrenaline that was coursing through their veins.
Finally I asked, “How is your knee?”
He barked, “Not good.”
Silence; Long silence.
“How do you want to do this?” I asked.
“I want to take my own pack down” he said.
“But you better take it” he said.
“Okay” I said.
I got up put his pack on (which was heavier than mine) and headed towards the snow bank. I put one foot on the snow and suddenly my dad grabbed me by my sleeve, turned me to face him, looked me in the eye and said, “Son, you are my hero”.
I can’t tell you what those words did for me. All I could do was look at him, look down and nod my head.
We slowly descended the cliff and have never spoken about it since.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams that my dad would ever call me ‘hero’. Those words penetrated places deep inside my soul. As incredible as that moment was…it will fade into a distant memory the day Jesus hands me my white stone and calls me by my special name.
Here is what Jesus is saying, “One day you will stand before the One who made you; the One who thought you up. And He is going to hand you a white rock, and on that rock will be the single word you have wanted to hear and be for your whole life.
Some rocks are made for throwing; some rocks mean something altogether different. So you just hang on. You just put one foot in front of the other. You will be home soon enough.
An excellent blog, Joe. Really touches my heart. Thanks for all the time you spend in finding just the right words and for “staying the course.”