Rocks, geologists aver,
Are subject to change. Folding,
Heat, eruption and the slow
Attrition of weather, glaciers'
Long fisting, pressures
Result in unconformities,
Faults, erratics. Not only
Forms and textures alter
But the substance ‑ metamorphic rocks,
Schist, gneiss transformed
By temperature, chemicals, forces.
Each hour what seems most solid
Is reforging on time's anvil.
There is one rock that does not change,
Perfect and constant in its form.
While other splinter and derange
There is one Rock
That cannot alter in the storm.
While thrusting power makes them strange
It does not vary from its norm.
Rocks, overheated, rearrange,
Boil, overflow, cool and reform:
Beyond earth's fiercest fury's range
There is One Rock.
Here were no unconformities:
Each part was ideal in its kind
And in its place. Constant texture
With no fault, fineness of grain ‑
Altogether what He said He was ‑
And without eccentricities:
No erratics, nor conglomerates;
The Same, yesterday and today
And to the ages to come. Rock
On which I can depend.
Yet the attrition of time,
Pressures, ice and fire
More than any other
That Man has undergone;
Not passed through stoically
As a mere rock suggests.
Here the image fails
As every image must fail:
Lamb, Heifer or Dove
He suffered all He endured.
With a deep richness
Recalling blood, the ruby
Glows, warmly as love;
While the emerald
Like ocean over white sand
Shows its pure shining;
Refracting light, adamant,
Embrues the diamond;
Nobility beyond earth
The sapphire displays;
No mere stone, the pearl,
Bright as truth out of suffering,
Gleams in uncut white.
With silver, precious stones and gold
I built a delicate, costly tower;
Chryselephantine work extolled
My Master, to its utmost power ‑
But storms arose ‑ it would not stand
For it was founded upon sand.
Again ‑ but now on rock ‑ I built
An edifice designed to swell
The praise of Him who bore my guilt;
I thought my work had progressed well
But fire demolished all I saw
‑ Since it was wood and grass and straw.
Lord, let me build on Thee alone
According to Thy heavenly plan
And let me be a living stone
Solely for Thee, and not for Man;
And if the glory all is Thine
The happiness and peace are mine.
Yet in experience the Rock can be
A stumbling block; too high for me
I appears to observe and mock my attempts
To scale it: I knock my head against
A flinty cliff; I cannot unlock
Or smite out of it water, oil or honey.
I stumble at the foot of the crag ‑
Enervated, unable to drag my body
From the earth. On crumbling slag I stand
But with any effort I flag; no
Way appears. Into my grazed flesh
Harsh outcrops jag their sharpness.
My desire is directed upward; my soul
Burns like a fire if I weakly
Decline or retire. How make headway
To heights I aspire to? My body
Languishes, muscles ache, arms
Tire, for my flesh outweighs me.
As for my feet, treading miry clay
He set them on a Rock, and He
Established my goings; I called
And he led me to Rock which is higher
Than I; and in the day of evil He
Will set me high upon a Rock.
For who is a Rock if not our God
Who makes my feet like hinds' feet
And sets me on my high places.
Gracefulness and agility superseding
My natural sloth and lowness I
Walk and leap and praise God.
Behold, He smote the rock
waters rushed out,
how did they doubt
His gladness to unlock
boundless resources yet to be bestowed?
He led them through alone:
He gave them food
from the rich soil;
and soon they could
suck honey from the stone;
while from the flinty rock He gave them oil.
Be, become, conform to being,
To me, your rebel, persistent wanderer,
Recurring prodigal, even to me,
A rock ‑ a covert, refuge and strong
Hold ‑ a rock of habitation
Whereunto I ‑ I, myself, who
With the mind serve God's law ‑
May continually, and continuously too,
Till time dissolves out of continuousness,
Resort, like the rock badger,
But a feeble folk ‑ yet exceeding wise ‑
Who make their house in the cliff.
For the support of such a grand creation
As God's own house only one Rock is sure
To uphold all God's structure and endure
Attacks and storms ‑ and Christ is that foundation.
There is one glorious pattern which alone
Can gratify God's heart ‑ not a mere plan
From which to measure, but the glorious Man
Who pleased God well: Christ is that Corner Stone.
As patterned on that Man we can be built
As living stones each into his own place,
According to the riches of God's grace,
Freed from the stain and penalty of guilt.
The work continues. Soon God will present
His masterpiece ‑ yet we already know
Enjoyment of it ‑ and that work will show
The Headstone, Christ, its finest ornament!