Do you remember Nichole Nordeman’s song “River God”? It was on her very first cd, “Wide Eyed”, which released in ’98. I would listen to that tape (it was my pre-cd era constantly. “River God” was always one of my favorites on that tape. But the song didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. As a kid I don’t think I fully understood the meaning and importance of the lyrics. Now as an adult, I feel like that song was written just for me. I’ve always loved the imagery of the lyrics….
“Rolling river God, little stones are smooth only once the water passes through. So I am a stone rough and grainy still, trying to reconcile this rivers chill.”
I love those lines because it reminds me so much of how I am some days. When I’m feeling angry, hurt, or discouraged, I find myself getting so rough and grainy on the inside. Sometimes it happens so fast that I barely realize it till all of the sudden I’m snapping at the people I love, all because I let those feelings have control over me. Or it could come in the form of self pity. That’s what happens when we choose to give in to what makes us so rough and grainy instead of giving it over to God before it has the chance to take root in us. When people hurt us, when life lets us down, when things in our lives aren’t the way we want them to be – after a while it can wear away at our soul. It can make what was once a beautiful, smooth stone very rough and grainy.
Some of the times when I’ve felt my heart get its roughest is when I’ve been angry with someone and allowed bitterness and unforgiveness to seep in. There is very little that will eat away at you quicker than unforgiveness. And I absolutely hate the feeling of being angry. It’s an intense, scary feeling that makes me feel so disconnected from God. And in the end you realize you’re just hurting yourself by not forgiving. It was during this particular time that I listened to “River God” for the first time in a long while. The song just brought me so much peace. I was in tears almost instantly because it described exactly how I felt at the time. The chorus was the prayer I simply couldn’t put into words,
“But when I close my eyes and feel you rushing by, I know that time brings change and change takes time. And when the sunset comes my prayer would be this one, that you might pick me up and notice that I am just a little smoother in your hand.”
It made me see that the only way I could ever be a beautiful, smooth stone again was to release everything that made me rough in the first place over to him. Letting go of all my anger, all the bitterness, and every ounce of unforgiveness in me and put myself in his loving hands. If I don’t, I will always be that rough and grainy stone. And at that point I just couldn’t stand feeling so rough and grainy any longer. We have a choice no matter what we’re going through to either forgive and choose to love, or we can choose to harden our hearts, never letting anyone get through again. We can become so hard and close ourselves up to love. We can close ourselves up to God’s love and the love of each other because we are terrified that it’s going to bring us more hurt. We have a choice to stay a rough and grainy stone, or to let God come in and make us smooth once again.
“The deepest part of you is where I want to stay and feel the sharpest edges wash away.”
Not only did I need to be reminded in that moment, but everyday I despertly need him to pick me up and notice that I am just a little smoother in his hand.