Pushing the Rock

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A man kept having the same dream. In this dream, God would bring the man to a place where there was a very large rock, bigger than the man himself. God would say, “Your role is to push that rock”. The man would obediently apply his shoulder to the rock and start pushing with all his might. Sometimes he would try different ways to push – higher or lower on the side of the rock, using his hands or lying down and pushing with his feet. Yet however hard he tried, however tired and sore he got, that rock would never move and inch. Night after night he would push as hard and as long as he could without once seeing a reward for his labor. But he was happy, for he was doing what God had asked of him. 

 One night, the dream was different. The devil came to him as he was pushing with all his strength and asked him, “Why are you trying to move that immovable rock?” The man answered, “Because this is the job God has given me, and I must obey him.” “Why do you waste your energy on such a useless exercise? Surely God is sitting up there laughing at you now! And what do you get out all this? Nothing but sore muscles, aches, pains, bruises and scratches. It’s not worth it! If there were any hope you might actually move the thing it might be different, but do you really think you can ever move a rock that size? If I were you, I wouldn’t strain myself on a task that will never succeed. Why don’t you just take life easy and enjoy yourself?”

 This seemed to make perfect sense to the man, so he took the advice and stopped trying so hard. Every night, he would put less and less effort into trying to move that rock, until at least he would just sit with his back leaning against it and let his thoughts drift aimlessly… 

 And then, one night, God came back. “Why are you not pushing against the rock as I asked you to?” He asked. “Well”, answered the man, “I really can’t see any hope of shifting the thing – it’s far too heavy for me. So I thought I might just rest instead until I got a chance to ask You for another job. I think there must have been some mistake.” “There was no mistake”, said God. “When did I ever ask you to MOVE the rock?” “But … wasn’t that my task?” “I asked you to PUSH the rock – I never said anything about it MOVING.” “Now I’m really confused,” said the man. “What’s the point of pushing against a rock that I have no hope of moving?” “My son, why do you not trust Me? Look now at your arms. Look at your legs and your shoulders and your chest. Were all those muscles there before you began this task? Where did all those strong muscles come from, if not from your efforts in PUSHING against the rock? THAT was the purpose of this job that I gave to you. When you were obedient to Me, you were growing stronger and stronger, but when you decided you knew better, you stopped getting stronger and started to become weak and flabby again. Trust My requests and obey them, even if you don’t know where they will lead. For at least you know this: that I love you and will always do what is best for you. But please trust Me and obey My requests.”

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