The Liberating Rock

by Stephanie Sawyer

Who would have thought that a small gray rock, slightly larger than a golf ball, graspable within the fist, could mold and reshape my life with empowerment? Who could have known the great power of its weight immeasurable upon the scale in density? Its impact was in the greatness of the message it bore scripted on the surface of the rock. The rock bore no weight at all to my heart, and even to my hand. To the contrary, it was to full liberation and spiritual freedom that it gently swayed me.

For a full year upon receiving the rock, I cried out at all times during my day in various personal torments as my fragmented life fell before my eyes. It was constantly to the rock that I turned my eyes. It held the secret. Eventually, I knew that my own code of distress would be broken as I cried out in prayer clutching the rock in my fist for dear precious mercy. I had to hold on. I could not let go.

The rock was nothing more than a small gray paperweight. It was multi-faceted with rounded edges and a flattened bottom. Since I am a musician and had to beg for mercy in passing geology in college, I will attempt no further physical description of the rock. I'd probably make a fool of myself. The spiritual impact it made on me was its primary function.

In the year that I was going through a major life transition, the rock became more attached to my hand grasp amidst my grief stricken tears and prayers than to any desktop as a paperweight. I grew to need it at my bedside for my nightmares and agonizing moments of despair. In as much, my bed was the site of most of my prayer life. There, I could see and attempt to grasp the message I saw neatly printed on the top surface of the rock, “GOD IS MY ROCK”.

The pale lettering had been wearing off by my hand grasps, but was still easily readable. The message was poignant, placing it beyond the usual heralded group of gimmicky catchall phrases that are commonly used in trends. Instead, this message pierced my mental and emotional despair, speaking directly to my forlorn situation.

The rock came to me by surprise. The remembrance of it still lingers and brings a smile to my face. On the day I received it, I was drowning in my own tears from a sudden self-induced job loss. I had quickly departed a bad situation for the well being of all parties. Yet, I desperately needed employment and had no cash reserves to fall back on. I had very recently moved to a new town from a lengthy marriage, now broken. I knew no close friends, and did not know the city. Despair had set in, as I felt utterly overwhelmed. Even at that point, I did not realize that I was also dealing with growing physical limitations that were impairing me from a fuller life style. I only knew that I was isolated, afraid, confused, and unable to provide my most basic necessities for simple living. Rent, groceries, utilities were an immediate concern, not to mention gasoline. I collapsed on my sofa in my new apartment and gave way to uncontrollable sobbing. Then suddenly, there was a rapping on my door.

Taken aback, I arose to gather myself while wondering whom this could be. Upon opening the door, I was relieved to see a warm acquaintance from a church dinner group I had once visited. Barb was a fellow musician, which had the immediate impact of releasing all my defenses. All musicians are eccentric! Now, she was standing before me extending her hand forward as she warmly explained.

“God told me to bring this to you,” she simply stated. And she pressed the little rock into my palm. It was then that I noticed its trademark message, “GOD IS MY ROCK”. The Holy Spirit jumped up within me for I recognized the truth even in my despair.

Next, Barb extended a book, It's Not About Me, Rescue from the Life We Thought Would Make us Happy by Max Lucado (availble from This book would become pertinent in the days and weeks ahead. Relaxing with her kindness, I knew I had to invite her in. We spent at least an hour, probably two, together that afternoon in formation of the deepest friendship I have ever had. Indeed, we consider each other sisters for we have a strong spiritual bond surpassing that of most dear friends. We have become deeply connected through our prayer lives together. We discovered on that day the many journeys of like course we had individually taken. That led us to a deep and rich understanding and appreciation of each other that we had not found in another previous person. We had both known great hardships of unusual proportion and measurement.

At the end of the afternoon, I knew the hand of the Lord had touched me in a mighty way that day. My physical situation had not changed one whit from the morning collapse. Yet, I knew that the Lord was working something I could not see. I could sense a journey in front of me that was about to unfold. My focus began to change. My sense of dependency began to shift. And I began to look to Him more and consider my options in His light.

The day marked the onset of an intense spiritual deepening. I have been a strong worshipper of Jesus Christ my full adult life. He has been my personal Lord and savior since the onset of adulthood. However, my faith in His abilities to be my sole provider was lacking. Dire circumstances were surrounding me. I faced joblessness, hunger, isolation, poverty, and marital brokenness. I had just moved from a women's shelter to my apartment, and could not see how I could upkeep my rent and groceries. I had not been proven yet in my faith. I was still living by sight.

God was about to change that in the year ahead. He knew I was going to need that rock to hang onto as a reminder while He took me through the fire. As I clutched the rock's message, I would be hanging onto His promises and deepening my faith in Him.


Stephanie with Priest


Stephanie heard the Lord impacting her with testimony about Jesus being her only Rock for her life as she designed and embroidered this inspired altar overlay. Her time in simple sewing was a time of solitude, of prayer and listening.  She is seen with the priest, the Rev. Craig Morgan, at Church of the Redeemer, Houston, Texas, at the dedication service. The altar overlay is entitled "New Life", and is dedicated to Stephanie's grandmother, Lilyan Denny Scott, who was a great model of faith in Stephanie's growing years.   




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