"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church;"
Matthew 16:18

A short time ago, my sister relayed to me that the rock that I had given to my nephew, Noah, was nearly lossed. It appeared that her mother-in-law had come over to my sister's house and decided, as a favor to my sister, to clean her house. Seeing the rock in plain sight, and without knowing the significance of it, her mother-in-law tossed it into the trash. Frantically, after arriving home and not seeing the rock, my sister searched and searched until she found the rock in the waste basket. She pulled it out, cleaned it, and then placed it back into my nephew's room. Emphatically, she spoke to her mother-in-law, "never touch that rock again."

So why was this rock so valued. Was it just a stone. No. This was an agate. Polished by the hands of a gentle man. A man who walked with God everyday. It was a stone that I received at the memorial service for Howard. There were so many agates left behind by Howard, that his family wished to share them with all his friends. One last gift from Howard.

This stone was in my pocket the day I married my wife, and in my hands the day I received my Parkinson's diagnosis. It was in my pocket the day Noah was adopted, and the day he was baptized.

I was honored to be chosen as Noah's Godfather, because my sister believed that I would be a good example of faith for my nephew. "If anything ever happened to her and my brother-in-law," she confided, "(she wished for me to) guide Noah in his faith journey."  Immediately after the baptism, I placed the rock in Noah's hands and he held the rock for a short time before my sister placed it into safekeeping.

The rock, I explained to her, was from a man whom God used to help others. A man who treasured this daily walk with God and the honor of being his family's faith leader. A man who quietly inspired others, who shared a love for God with his wife, as well as the same birthday as her. I wanted this rock to be a faith example, like Howard, especially when I couldn't be there for Noah. 

Many times Howard would give what little that he had for others. He'd spend his loose change on items like miniature flashlights or any inexpensive trinket that he thought you needed. Life was not about accumulating wealth for him, it was about the treasure of Heaven. Howard cleaned, polished, and cared for the agates, each one different, unique, and as precious as rubies, diamonds, and the stars of the heavens. 

When we think of a rock, many that I know can recall the verse of "...you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church..." Because Peter in Greek means Petra, or rock, we easily confuse this verse in the belief that Christ was going to build his church using Peter. While Peter was the first Pope and easily can be pointed towards the reason the early church moved forward, we miss what truly was being said by Jesus in this verse.In Greek, the word for Rock has multiple meanings depending on the gender used. When Christ referred to rock, he was not referring to Peter, but to the object of a stone, a large rock.

While an agate isn't a large stone, it is however a symbol of victory. Christ's resurrection was seen when a "large stone" was moved from the tomb - "a large rock carved out." When Jesus talked of building his church, he referred to the cornerstone - a good foundation, made from a large stone. David saw the stone, as a way to defeat the giant.

As we hold and then close both hands around this rock, we see what Howard saw everyday. We see its true power and majesty.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle;
Psalm 144:1