Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Day in and day out it was the same thing. This continued to happen for days, weeks, months, over and over. Years—decades—went by and the man grew older his hair turned gray, and he began to tire easily. He eventually became despondent.

Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it. Besides, look at yourself. You’re old. You grow feebler every day. How can you possibly expect to move that rock now?” Thus the man began to believe that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ve grown old and my ability to move the rock diminishes with every day. Why must I continue to push it? Surely the Lord needs a younger person to do this work, surely he no longer needs me! Perhaps I should quit and make way for whoever God chooses next.” He planned to quit the following morning, but thought about it, and decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he prayed, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you are too old and that you have failed.”

“But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push, to remain faithful and trust in My wisdom. This you have done wonderfully. I, my child, will now move the rock. As for you, I have other work for which the task of pushing the rock has prepared you . Follow me and I will show you.”

Author unknown, https://bible.org/illustration/unmoved-rock

Additional material by Rev. Dr. Jeff Colarossi