It happened while driving in the car and again walking on a dirt road, my long maxi skirt swishing around my ankles.
It happened again in Israel.
I’ve been to Haiti three times. And each time, God gave me a song. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, if I hear any of the tunes I’m immediately right back in that place, standing in the exact spot where He gave me the melody.
I’ve written about the time in the car as I drove away from the place I become my fullest, realest self. And I’ve told you about two of my three Haiti songs, the one about needing God desperately as the storm clouds thundered and the one about angry voices raised and praying for God to show up in the midst.
The story for that third song will come in time. I’ve wondered for two months why the words haven’t appeared just yet, but perhaps this song needs to be shared first.
When the all-too-familiar tune came to mind the first day I stepped foot in Israel, I honestly thought nothing of it. You hum tunes all the time, seemingly out of no where, right? But then again on the second day. And the third. The fourth, the fifth, and up until the very end.
It never let up.
Truthfully? I thought it was a Haiti thing. Silly me. It’s a God thing and He isn’t confined to speaking to me in one way in one particular country. Apparently this method of gripping my heart works and so finally, hopefully, I’m fully awake and paying attention.
As our group walked around tel* after tel, looking at cisterns and bathhouses and rocks and ruins, I couldn’t stop humming the chorus under my breath.
If you’ve stood in church on a Sunday, there’s a chance that the words have left your lips, too. It begins like this:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name
When we went to Megiddo, I began to better understand why that song would follow me around for the entire trip.
No matter what you believe, you’ve surely seen the wooden mangers that begin popping up around Christmas time. And you may have heard from a pulpit or a podcast or a conversation that Jesus Christ was a carpenter. Mark 6:3 even refers to Jesus as a carpenter — in the English translation.
But. We went to Megiddo and what I learned in my college classes was sitting right there in front of my eyes — mangers were made out of stone.
I don’t want to wreck your view so feel free to turn back now, but the thing is that Jesus was more than likely a stonemason. There aren’t very many trees in Israel. I mean sure, there are a lot. But not enough to just cut them down left and right. Stones, though? Rocks?
You could barely see the hillside behind all the stones. From little pebbles to massive boulders, they are literally everywhere you look. I kept trying to find a place that didn’t have a stone in sight and all I did was fail.
Would you feed your animals out of a trough made of wood from your meager supply or would you use the resources that you could literally never run out of? And yes, Jesus absolutely may have worked with wood. But even so, He most certainly must have daily worked with stone.
Christ, who is the Cornerstone, was very likely born in a hollowed out stone feeding trough.
The Cornerstone likely worked with stones as His job and that just seems so fitting, doesn’t it? In some ways, the Bible goes from one garden to another, from Adam and Eve to the Garden of Gethsemane. But Jesus goes from being wrapped and placed in one hollowed stone to another, from a manger to a tomb.
The Light of the world was no stranger to the darkness.
And so I kept singing…
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
I quietly sang the song under my breath all the way to Jerusalem, our final stop during our time in Israel. I knew we would visit the Western Wall and I came prepared, ready with my blue-lined piece of notebook paper, folded tight and small to quietly leave in between the cracks of the wall.
It was very short, just one sentence about peace for this country and that all would see Jesus for who He truly is. And then I wrote the chorus to Cornerstone, the four sentences that the rest of the countryside heard.
Christ alone, cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is lord, lord of all
In ancient building practices, a cornerstone was usually one of the most solid, largest pieces of the foundation. It is steady, faithfully working to hold up the rest of the structure.
In Ephesians 2:19-21, Paul says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”
Jesus is our firm foundation, steady and sure as the sun shines and the waves crash.
He is the temple and we who believe are the temple and it’s funny because that’s my word for the year.
And so this Jesus, this temple who lives in us so that we may be temples, came to be the cornerstone for us for the rest of our days.
Is it any surprise that He came to the earth He created, worked with stones His hands formed, and was laid in the hollow of a stone only to conquer death and leave the stone tomb behind 33 years later? He is the stone. He is the foundation.
He is the song.
*A tel is is man-made hill, usually a city. The natural hill, located at a strategic location, would be raised over time as the city is built up. After a war, the city would be leveled. Down the road, instead of starting from scratch a new city would be built on top of the ruins. This, of course, results in layer upon layer of accumulated ruins as the hill grows in height over time.