by Carol Buckhout, Vice-Moderator of the Presbytery

The other evening as the canine member of our household and I were taking our regular walk, I slowed down as Hops (a Beagle—mostly) started sniffing a patch of the neighbor’s grass.

As I slowed, I noticed a small rock near the base of a tree. The rock was a round stone, a little lopsided, smooth and about the size of an orange. On it was written “God Loves You!!”” with three arrows pointing to the right. The words were written in pink and appeared to be florescent craft paint and “You” was underlined three times. This was an unexpected message in an unexpected place.

The message is certainly not new. We’ve all heard those words before: in Sunday School lessons as children; as part of Bible studies; and in many a sermon, and all with appropriate scripture references. I think I recall seeing that message painted on a rock as part of a youth group activity.

In recent years, I’ve seen those words on popular “merch”—kitchen plaques, coffee mugs, even needlepointed on a pillow. But I was surprised to see “God Loves You!!” at the base of a flowering pear tree along our residential street.

As we finished our walk, questions rolled through my mind. Who painted the rock? And, chose that message? Why place it just off the sidewalk next to a tree? And, what was up with the three arrows pointing to the right?

The context of the message seemed off. But, perhaps the context was just right.

While I would love to know what was to the right of the three arrows, it does not detract from the rightness of the message. God’s love does show up in unexpected places and in unexpected ways. And, who doesn’t love having a message of massive love directed at YOU—and emphasized with three underlines! We just need to slow our steps, read the message, and let the words sink in.