I've read most of William J. Bennett's books, including "The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey."
Bennett, who served as Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, is a fascinating person. I've had opportunity to talk with him several times over the years.
His books are fascinating as well. A story in "The Moral Compass" came to mind recently.
In it he tells the story of "The Stone In The Road", a story of a king who once said, "Nothing good can come to a nation where people constantly complain and expect others to solve their problems."
Let me tell you the story... "One quiet night while everyone was sleeping, the king ventured onto a road near his palace and placed a large stone in the middle of the road...
The stone in the road.
There is a story told of a king who lived long ago in a country across the sea. He was a very wise king, and spared no effort to teach his people good habits. Often he did things which seemed to them strange and useless; but all that he did, he did to teach his people to
be industrious and careful.
“Nothing good can come to a nation,” he said, “whose people complain and expect others to fix their problems for them. The good things of life are given to those who take matters into their own hands.”
One night, while everyone else slept, he placed a large stone in the road that led past his palace. Then he hid behind a hedge, and waited to see what would happen. First came a farmer with his wagon heavily loaded with grain, which he was taking to the mill to be ground.
“Well, whoever saw such carelessness?” he said crossly, as he turned his team and drove around the stone. “Why don’t these lazy people have that rock taken from the road?” And so he went on complaining of the uselessness of others, but not touching the stone himself.
Soon afterward, a young soldier came singing along the road. The long plume of his cap waved in the breeze, and a bright sword hung at his side. He was thinking of the wonderful bravery he would show in the war.
The soldier did not see the stone, but struck his foot against it and went sprawling in the dust. He rose to his feet, shook the dust from his clothes, picked up his sword, and stormed angrily about the lazy people who had no more sense than to leave such a huge rock in the road. Then he, too, walked away, not once thinking that he might move it himself.
So the day passed. Everyone who came by complained and whined because the stone lay in the road, but no one touched it.
At last, just at nightfall, the miller’s daughter came past. She was a hard-working girl, and was very tired, because she had been busy since early morning at the mill.
But she said to herself, “It is almost dark. Somebody may fall over this stone in the night, and perhaps he could be badly hurt. I will move it out of the way.” So she tugged at the heavy stone. It was hard to move, but she pulled and pulled, and pushed, and lifted until at last she moved it from its place.
To her surprise, she found a box underneath.
She lifted the box. It was heavy, for it was filled with something. Upon it was written: “This box belongs to the one who moves the stone.”
She opened the lid, and found it was full of gold!
The miller’s daughter went home with a happy heart. When the farmer and the soldier and all the others heard what had happened, they gathered around the spot in the road where the stone had been. They scratched at the dust with their feet, hoping to turn up a piece of gold.
“My friends,” said the king, “we often find obstacles and burdens in our way. We may complain out loud while we walk around them if we choose, or we can lift them and find out what they mean. Disappointment is usually the price of laziness.”
Then the wise king mounted his horse and, with a polite “Good evening,” rode away.
William J. Bennett
The Moral Compass
Dr. Mark H. Creech also remembers the story and shared some comments on it in his column recently.
Today there are many heavy stones in the road, many challenges for the church and the culture. There are those Christians who curse the darkness, continuing along the road, while others ignore the stones altogether, living in a spirit of denial that the stones even exist---and if they do, there's nothing "I" can do about it. "After all," they say, "what can one person do anyway?"
They see our country in a moral free fall, while declaring that the Lord doesn't want Christians involved in "politics." And besides, "the Constitution requires separation of church and state. Right?
Actually it doesn't. The intent was to protect the church from the overreach of the government.
Christians---all of us, often talk about how much better it was in the past as we stumble along tripping on the stones in the road.
Statistics reveal that we don't feel our elected Congressional representatives reflect our beliefs at all---yet we re-elect them.
Creech says, "There are Christians in places of high power and could actually make a difference, but instead they sit Lot-like in the gates of Sodom."
We often point to the catastrophic cultural events of our times, pointing out that they are a sign of the times. Jesus is coming soon.
They are. And He is.
But until He does return, we have been commanded to occupy---speak to the issues---share the gospel---change the world---remove the stones.
We are saved by grace, and grace alone---but are called to do the work of the Lord. To be laborers together with God. And will be rewarded accordingly.
And that includes removing stones that in the darkness of the hour threaten the purposes of God and the institutions of God, like marriage, family and the sanctity of life.
Sometimes it takes time---always struggle and sacrifice. But under each stone is the gold of God's blessing, the words, "Well done good and faithful servant."
When stones are moved, there is the joy of helping people---advancing the gospel, the Good News, God's Truth, and helping change the culture.
And we know the King of Kings watches to see who will move the stone.
Be Faithful. Be Vigilant. Be Blessed.