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Beginning With The Cornerstone

Prior to my senior year in high school, my family moved from the 70-year-old farmhouse we had lived in for 10 years, to a new home we built just to the north, still located on our property.
The construction plans called for a fireplace with a 30-foot chimney. We decide to build the chimney utilizing native stone quarried from our farm.
We hired a bulldozer driver to dig out the stone, from a ledge located over the creek, running through our farm. We then hired a stonemason to erect the chimney. It was my job to assist him. One day, the Italian-born stonemason instructed me on what I needed to do to prepare for his arrival.
I was to begin breaking stone and hauling rock from the created pile to the construction site. For the next week, my sledgehammer and I became very familiar with that rock pile, and I began hauling rock to the site. It sounds like hard work, but fortunately, even at a young age, I appreciated the importance of frequent breaks – taking time to get properly hydrated, so one could continue with their task throughout the day. It was still hard work, and overall I thought the job went rather well.
The following Monday, I was greeted at 6:45 a.m., by the sound of a racing engine, honking horn, and a wildly enthusiastic Italian stonemason yelling, “Kirk-ey, Kirk-ey, Let’s Go! Let’s Go! We have work to do! Let’s go!” From that day in late May 2004, until mid August, I was greeted in similar fashion Monday through Friday. Thus began a short but intense relationship between Joe, the Italian stonemason and his unwilling 17-year-old apprentice, who saw himself as more of an indentured servant. My attitude toward the project could have been a bit more enthusiastic.
The first morning, Joe inspected my rock pile, and after reviewing my work of the past week, immediately proclaimed, “Kirk-ey, this is junk rock – no good – we need to find the cornerstone.” That morning we inspected the original rock pile, back and forth, seemingly for hours, until Joe announced, “I see the cornerstone.” He saw the cornerstone, in what I saw as an impenetrable huge slab of rock. I could not imagine breaking it apart.
Joe instructed me, “Kirkey, hit the rock here.” Three or four times I slung that hammer, all with the same result – nothing. The 70-year-old stonemason sighed, “Kirk-ey, give me the hammer.” One swing and four perfect pieces are broken from the slab. Joe points to one and says, “This is the cornerstone.” He then explained how it was important to have a strong rock as the cornerstone, because all other rocks had to be aligned with it. If the cornerstone wasn’t set properly, nothing else would be in alignment, and the whole structure would be in danger of falling down.
I remembered my days of helping Joe when I reviewed Peter’s testimony in front of the Jewish religious leaders as accounted in Acts 4 (1-22). After healing a beggar, he had been arrested and proclaimed to the Jewish leaders it was by the name of Jesus that the man was healed; the one they had rejected and crucified, but whom God raised from the dead.
When I was younger, I wasn’t that much different than the Jewish leaders Peter spoke with. I also rejected Christ. It wasn’t that my life was desperate and I was in an abyss, although maybe I was and didn’t realize it. I felt there was something missing. My sense of accomplishment was fleeting, joy was empty, and disappointment lingered too long. There was something missing in my life. It wasn’t until I responded to God’s offer of hope for salvation through Jesus Christ did that feeling begin to turn around. I began growing in faith.
See, the moment you accept Christ it’s not the end – it’s just the beginning.
Placing the cornerstone isn’t the completion of the project. It’s the beginning of building the structure. The cornerstone has to be set firmly in place or all other stone will be out of alignment, and the structure won’t be sound. It will be in danger of crumbling down. Yet, after it’s in place, there’s still work to be done. The cornerstone makes the completion of the project possible.
As the integrity of the structure begins with the cornerstone, our strength in faith begins with the cornerstone – Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

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