The Precious Stone: A Story of Spiritual Direction For You!

stack of pebbles

A holy and happy hermit came to the outskirts of a village and settled down under a tree for the night. He got out his Bible and was about to say his prayers, which he always prayed in Jesus’ name, when a villager suddenly came running up to him and exclaimed, “The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!”

“What stone?” asked the hermit.

“Last night an angel appeared to me in a dream,” explained the villager, “and he told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I’d find a hermit who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”

The hermit rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. “Is this the stone that you’re looking for?” he asked. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can have it.”

The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond as large as a person’s fist! It was probably the largest diamond in the whole world! He grabbed it and hurried home, holding the treasure close to his heart.

That night the villager clutched his precious stone as he went to bed, but all night he tossed about, unable to sleep. He kept thinking about the diamond and the hermit.

Before dawn he jumped out of bed and ran back to the hermit. He found him sleeping peacefully under the tree. He shook him awake, crying out, “I don’t want the diamond! I don’t want the diamond! Here, take it back. Instead, teach me how to pray so I can have the kind of riches that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so freely.”

Which Stone Do You Want?
The Precious Stone is an old story from an anonymous source. Perhaps it goes all the way back to the Desert Fathers who in the 3rd and 4th Centuries lived as hermits and gave spiritual direction to pilgrims. I’ve re-told this story, modifying it slightly from the versions I found. Consider with me what I sense God might be saying to us through this incredible parable.

The question of spiritual direction in this parable is, “Which stone do you want?” It’s another way of asking the question Jesus often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:36 and 51)

In the case of the villager he went back to the hermit because he realized he had asked for the wrong stone! He got the world’s largest diamond to make him rich like he thought he wanted, but it made him squinty-eyed in greed and overwhelmed with anxiety — it was ruining his life. He had misinterpreted the angel’s message in his dream. He asked the hermit for a precious stone, but he hadn’t asked for the Precious Stone, which is Jesus Christ!

Because Jesus had a hold of the hermit’s heart he was truly rich — even when he had nothing in this world except the clothes on his back, food for the day, and a small bag. So when he found the diamond he simply dropped it in his bag and left it there, never putting it in his heart. He didn’t need the diamond because he was already happy in Jesus.

Freely Receive, Freely Give
The hermit freely gave away the diamond to the villager because he always shared what he had with others. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). That was the hermit’s motto. For him, giving away the diamond was no different than sharing a loaf of bread with a hungry man or a word of blessing to someone who was discouraged.

God used the diamond to test the villager. What did he want from the hermit? Worldly wealth or the peace of Christ? There is only room for one master in the heart. (Matthew 6:24)

The villager passed the test. With the help of the hermit’s spiritual direction he learned to open his heart to Jesus and to become a man of prayer, filled with the riches of heaven and ready to bless others.

Spiritual Direction
The Precious Stone teaches us that we need at least one Christ’s ambassador who offers us the ancient art of spiritual direction by helping us to stay attuned with God and his loving purposes in the midst of daily life and stress. (2 Corinthians 5:20. We also need to be Christ’s ambassador to others.) Your Christ’s ambassador could be a spiritual director like the hermit was for the villager. Or it could be a pastor, counselor, coach, sponsor, small group leader, or soul friend. If you’re  in ministry yourself you especially need to be receiving spiritual direction and care from someone!

How can we effectively minister God’s grace and truth to others if we’re not regularly humbling ourselves to someone else as unto the Lord? How do we know if we really trust the God we can’t see if we don’t make ourselves vulnerable to a servant of God we can see?

Many ministers try to shepherd others without being shepherded, but it’s deadly for their souls. They end up living more and more out a false self. Depression is likely. Maybe burnout or a moral blow out.

If you’re hiding your real self from others don’t wait until your life and ministry have eroded. Find a Christ’s ambassador and get the spiritual direction you need today.

by B Gault