Sometimes you need a hand up along the way. Sometimes what you need is a stepping stone. Stepping stones are like bridges but less grand. Stepping stones help you get to where you are going. They help you over the rough patches when the path gives way to wilderness and water and uncharted territory and you need to find your way back to the path again. Stepping stones provide connection in the gaps so you don’t fall through the cracks. They provide a way forward where none would exist otherwise. Both get walked on, bridges and stepping stones, that is their purpose. They offer us safe passage on our journey. They give us a way to get where we are going.
I have relied on stepping stones often in my life and been grateful for their presence each and every time. Many are the times I need a stepping stone when the path before me crumbles away or becomes impassable and I find it impossible to move forward until I find another way. Stepping stones show me that new way where there was no way. But I have to confess – although I often use stepping stones, I have never aspired to be a stepping stone. After all, who would want to be such a lowly thing? Something on the ground that gets walked on and not even grand like a bridge, that’s a stepping stone. Bridges have names. You never heard of a stepping stone having a name, now did you?
Still, King David said in Psalm 84:10 these words about himself,
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
I guess a doorkeeper was a pretty lowly position, you didn’t even get to go inside and enjoy the comforts and the amusements that those inside must surely be enjoying. Yet King David acknowledged that even something seemingly insignificant and lowly in God’s kingdom was to be preferred over a higher, more exalted existence apart from God.
So better a stepping stone in God’s kingdom than a fancy pillar of stone in the world. (those could actually be considered stumbling blocks if truth be told) Stones have been used in various ways throughout history. In Jesus’s time as in other times, people were stoned to death for breaking the current laws of their culture. The expression of “casting stones” remains with us to this day, although with a slightly altered meaning.
A stone may be thought insignificant, while a rock is a symbol of strength and stability. We often refer to someone who is always there for us as “our rock.” In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we read about the most special of stones and our relationship to it. Referring to Jesus, Peter says,
“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ is our stepping stone to God. He is my stepping stone to God. Jesus laid down His life so that I could safely step across and find my way to God. Jesus is my sure foundation. Look what Isaiah 28:16 tells me about Him,
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.’ ”
Then I read in Psalm 118:22-23 these words,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
As Peter said, Jesus was rejected by men but God chose Jesus to be the capstone or cornerstone of everything that He was building here on earth and in heaven as well. And what’s more, I am told that I am a living stone being built into God’s spiritual house, along with my brothers and sisters in Christ. What an honor! I am one of many living stones being built upon the foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone. We all, as living stones, have different jobs to do. I want to do the work of a stepping stone, a living stepping stone.
I’ve walked across plenty of sacred stepping stone’s in my life’s journey. They are the precious saints who paved my path to God with the firmness of their faithfulness and the light of their love for our Heavenly Father. Like them, I want to be a stepping stone for others pursuing the path to God. It is a perilous path, filled with danger, doubt and discouragement, requiring devotion, dedication and self-sacrifice, so stepping stones are needed and are essential for all the spiritual wayfarers walking the path of faith. But in order to become a stepping stone, I first must learn to lay down. I must be willing to lay down my dreams, my desires, my will, my life, so that I might become a stepping stone used by God for His good purposes.
Jesus said in John 10:11-18,
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand . . . sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. . . . The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. . . . just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”
Jesus is the Rock eternal, God’s living Stone, the cornerstone, the capstone, the stepping stone to life. He became my stepping stone to eternal life when He laid down His life for me. I can do no less for others than Jesus did for me. Like David the doorkeeper, I would rather be a stepping stone on the path to God than a standing stone pillar, seen by all while blocking the view of and the way to God.
Lord, make me into a stepping stone fit for Your use. Teach me to lay down my life. Place me just where You want me to be. Put me where I am needed most, where the path grows perilous and footholds are hard to find.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
sincerely, Grace Day