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Set In Stone

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‘Don’t worry. These plans are set in stone’. It’s what you might say when something is fixed, immutable, unchangeable. Paper is soft; computer data subject to manipulation; pictures fade. But when something is set in stone… well, stone is hard, permanent – it ain’t gonna change, is it?

A few years back I poured a concrete base on the side of our house for a water tank. Before the concrete dried, we managed to scratch some names into the surface. Those names would be a constant reminder of our efforts for generations to come. The water tank has since been moved. I’m thinking of digging up the concrete base.

Nothing in this world is set in stone. Nothing. This hit home powerfully during our time in Scotland. Every ancient building is made of stone. Cathedrals, abbeys, and castles dot the landscape. Skilled craftsmen went to enormous efforts to carve and decorate these buildings. Graveyards are filled with headstones of wealthy men and women whose names, and sometimes exploits, were permanently etched into the stone.

Most headstones over 200 years old are by now illegible. Cathedrals and castles are mostly ruins, or in need of significant restoration. Gargoyles and angels have been so eroded so as to look more like Muppets than intricate works of art.

Don’t pin your hopes on this world. Even stones are subject to the ravages of time and decay. The prophet Isaiah points us towards a firmer foundation, ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever’ (Isaiah 40:8).