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A STORY OF STONES By: Steven Doornbos Copyright 2008

Kyle was beginning to think that he was never going to get home. He felt like he had walked for hours and the sun was starting to go down behind the hills. It was sort of scary, but not so much that he was going to start crying or anything. After all, he was nine years old now and nine year old boys just didn’t cry… no matter what.

The coat that he was wearing was warm enough to keep out the wind but inside Kyle was still shivering a little bit. He didn’t really know why. He just couldn’t make himself stop. It was getting really dark and he didn’t know quite what to do. His dad had always told him that if he ever believed that he was lost that the best thing to do was to stay put and let other people come to you and maybe it was time he found somewhere to do just that. He could hardly see what was in front of him now that the sun had completely gone down. Kyle thought of his dad and mom sitting at home waiting for him to get home from school and he knew that they would be worried sick by now because he had not arrived on time like he was supposed to.

Leaving school every day by himself was boring so today Kyle thought to himself that he would do a little exploring on the way home. Sure he knew that he wasn’t supposed to, but he was old enough, he thought, to take care of himself and make some decisions. He turned left into the grasslands instead of turning right toward his home. The grasslands had given way to trees and the trees turned into heavy forest. Before he realized it, he found that he really didn’t know the way home. He was hungry and thirsty and missed his dad and mom a lot.

There was a little stream not far away. He decided that it would be a good place to stay for the night and let other people come and find him. There were plenty of pine branches around so he could make himself a little bed out of them and could even use them as covers to help keep warm. The little stream was inviting so Kyle sat near it and picked up some little stones and put them into his jacket pocket.

The moon was out now and that helped make it a little brighter out so he could see the area around him. It wasn’t light enough though to be able to see his watch but he knew it was late and he was tired. After gathering some pine tree branches he was finally able to make a bed comfortable enough to lie down on without getting stuck by rocks and big sticks. Kyle put his head down and drifted off to sleep.

When you are sleeping in your nice warm bed and the morning sun shines in your eyes waking you up it is a little bit of a shock. When it happens while you are lost in the woods sleeping on pine branches it is a real big shock. It wakes you up really fast.

The water in the little stream was ice cold but it felt good when Kyle splashed some of it on his face to help himself wake up. He didn’t dare drink any of it though because he was afraid he would get sick… but it sure was tempting. Hunger and thirst were a real issue by now. The last of the small candy bar he had in his jacket was gone. The only thing left was the small stones that he had collected the night before.

Kyle pulled out the little stones and examined them closely. Some of them were really rough and had sharp edges that dirt and sand had been caught in them. The other ones were smooth. He wondered how the stones that were smooth get the way? Did something happen to them that had not happened to the rough ones? He thought to himself that he would ask his dad about this next time they were sitting around talking at the dinner table. Better not think of the dinner table right now, he thought, he was so very hungry.

There was a noise behind him and it made him jump. He heard it again. It was voices and he recognized one of them. It was his dad! Kyle yelled at the top of his voice and they heard him and came running. He knew that he was going to be in really big trouble and probably be grounded for life for this little trip he took but he didn’t care right now. He was going home!

As it turned out Kyle really had not walked very far into the woods. In fact, within fifteen minutes, he and his father had reached the family truck and were headed home. Kyle’s dad wasn’t saying much but he could tell that he was really disappointed in him. His eyes looked sad. The only thing he said was that his mother was worried sick about him and would be really happy to see him back home and safe. He also said that he was glad Kyle was safe but that there would be a punishment for doing what he did.

Katie, Kyle’s mom, was waiting on the front porch when they arrived home. She ran to the truck and gave Kyle a big hug and started crying. Kyle couldn’t figure out why people cry when they are happy. It just didn’t make any sense to him. But if that is what she wanted to do then it was okay with him. He whispered into her ear that he was really sorry and that he would never do anything like that again. She just hugged him tighter and said “I know, I know.”

Kyle’s mom was a great cook and made him his favorite breakfast as his welcome home meal. She cooked him bacon, not crispy, scrambled eggs and toast with simply tons of butter on it. “If you want more I’ll cook you as much as you want” she said. It didn’t take long before Kyle’s stomach hurt from eating so much food but it was just too good to not eat every last crumb!

Friday was laundry day so Kyle took off all of the clothes he was wearing and put them in the laundry basket. He even put his coat in with the dirty clothes cause it had mud on it and smelled like pine trees. His mom took the clothes away to the laundry room and Kyle put on his play clothes so he could go outside later. That until his mom got back from the laundry room and told him that he wasn’t going anywhere for a very long time. He was grounded, and until she and his father talked about it more in detail it was just the beginning of his punishment for making such a bad choice.

Kyle knew that complaining wouldn’t have done any good so he went back to his room, took out one of his favorite books and began reading. The day passed quickly and soon it was dinnertime. His mom called to him to come to the table so he put down his book and slowly walked to the kitchen. He wasn’t looking forward to this at all. His dad had come home from work and he had heard the two of them talking in whispers for a long time before dinner was ready. It was scary to even think about what was going to happen at the dinner table.

A lot of families that Kyle knew had lots of kids so dinnertime was always busy with laughter and conversation. Kyle though was the only child so when everyone sat down to eat it was just the three of them, nobody to distract his parents by other conversation and so on. Usually they talked about the day and what had happened to each one of them. Kyle’s dad said that his day at work was quite busy but that he had been able to stay ahead in his work so he didn’t have to work any overtime on the weekend. Mom said that she had talked to some of her friends on the telephone and that one of them was going to have a baby. She was excited for her. Kyle just kept eating. He really wasn’t all that hungry because the breakfast “stuffing” he did when he got home was still with him. However, eating was a good way to avoid having to say anything. He was going to keep eating until he popped the buttons off of his shirt if he had to.

Eating everything in sight didn’t work. Soon there was no more food on his plate and asking for “thirds” was out of the question. And, besides, his skin just wasn’t going to stretch that far. Kyle’s mom spoke first. She said “Kyle, I found some little stones in your jacket pocket when I went to put it in the washing machine.” She continued. “I’ve been thinking about them all day long and when I mentioned them to your father we decided that we could use them to make you understand what you did and how you can learn from your mistake. I’m not saying that we’re thrilled with your actions or anything but rather than punishing you in the normal way we usually would we’ve decided that learning a lesson is more valuable to your right now than suffering a bad punishment.”

Kyle didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing. It was even hard to look them in the eyes right now because he felt so bad about what he had done. All day long he was thinking of a way he could tell his parents how sorry he was and that he would never do anything like that again. Now it seemed that he was going to be let off the “trouble” hook.

Kyle’s dad said “Kyle, there were quite a few stones in your pocket. Was there anything special about them that made you save them?” Kyle said, “no, I just thought they were kind of neat. I did wonder why some of them were rough and some of them were smooth. In fact, I was going to ask you about that when we talked some time.

That’s interesting.” Kyle’s dad said “because they are what I want to talk to you about.” He put the stones on the kitchen table and laid them out in a row. The rough ones he put in the top row and the smooth ones in another row at the bottom. Kyle thought to himself “what in the world is he doing?” His dad said “Kyle look at the row of stones at the top. They are rough and the ridges are filled with dirt and sand. Then look at the smooth ones. Do you notice any difference?” Kyle said, “Yes, I can see what you’re talking about.” His father asked, “Where did you gather these stones? “I found them on the shore near the little stream I was sitting by last night, Kyle said.”

Kyle’s dad continued. “You said you were interested in knowing why some of the stones were rough while the others were smooth. I can answer that for you but first tell me why you think they are different.” “Well,” Kyle said, “I guess that the reason that the ones in the top row are so rough and dirty is because they weren’t able to be washed by the water and cleaned up.” “That’s right,” his dad said. “And what about the smooth stones?” “Probably the water tossed the rough stones around that fell into the water and beat the rough edges off of them so they became smooth.” “That’s right,” his dad said. “Can you see how there might be a lesson these stones can teach us? Kyle thought for a moment but didn’t get it.

His dad continued. “Let me explain. When we are born we are all covered with rough edges and filled with dirt. As we go through life some of those rough edges get worn away and we become a little smoother. Some of the dirt though doesn’t go away. There always seems to be just a little bit more that we can’t get rid of no matter how much we get into the stream of life. Last night you took a little dip into the stream of life and had some of your rough edges worn away. You became a little bit smoother on the outside. But I’m seeing a little bit more dirt on the inside. And I have some of it too and so does your mom. Everybody living has dirt inside of them and even though we try to wash it away by diving into the stream of life it never seems to totally get out of us. We can look all smooth on the outside but inside we are still filled with dirt. Nobody can see it but it is still there.

He continued “now I know that we go to Sunday school and church every Sunday and we learn all sorts of valuable lessons. But maybe God has taken it into His own hands to teach us another lesson with your stones. I can see all of the rough stones with sharp edges as you, your mom and me. We have dirt inside of us that needs to be cleaned out. But, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get clean. Jesus knew that when he came to live with us over two thousand years ago. He decided that He would become our little stream. He is the only person that can wash all of the dirt out of us and make us clean on the inside and smooth on the outside. There is nothing we can do. He does it all. That is why He is called the Spring Of Living Water in the Bible. He washes all of the dirt away for us. All we have to do is allow Him to do it. Best of all, His washing is always free. He paid the price already.

I know that you feel bad about what you did last night and so do we. We were scared to death and worried that we would never see you again. But then we remembered that you were a Christian and that God would be watching over you. And He did. He helped you remember how to make a shelter and reminded you that you should stay in one place and let other people find you instead of trying to find your way home. We are so thankful for His watching over you. But now you are home and all three of us have had to take a little dip in the stream of life. I know we’ve learned how important we are to one another as a family and are equally sure that you will never go wondering off alone again. Isn’t that right Kyle?” Kyle shook his head yes but didn’t dare look up into the eyes of his parents. After all, he was nine years old now, and nine year old boys just didn’t cry… no matter what!

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