The first time one hit me, it hurt. After multiple hits, I became numb to the pain. The stones thrown at me no longer scared or hurt me. As a twice-divorced women, I faced accusers, the greatest one being myself. To avoid the stones, I relinquished the call God had placed on my life to serve and work with others. I rejected grace and accepted the judgment of others and myself. But although I gave up on God's call in my life, God did not.
John 8:1-11 provides my portrait, and possibly yours. A woman scorned for her lifestyle and offered no hope of redemption, or so she was led to believe as the Pharisees placed her "in front of the crowd." Her sin was on display for everyone to see, for everyone to judge. Eager to throw stones, the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" This question was met with a moment of silence. As onlookers awaited the response, the woman awaited the stones. But Jesus provided something none of them expected.
In his grace and mercy, Jesus responded not with stones, but with a shield of grace and mercy for the woman. Jesus answered the Pharisees' question, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"
The Pharisees, ready to attack, stood stunned. Each one walked away. No stones were to be thrown on that day, only grace and mercy were to be hurled. Ready to be stoned to death, the woman wrestled with the redemption she was facing. Jesus rose from writing in the ground and asked, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"
The woman answered, "No, Lord."
And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." She rose not as an adulterous woman, but as a redeemed woman.
Before experiencing God's redemption, I clung to the stones in my life. I carried stones of rejection, defeat, worthlessness, and self-condemnation. Like the woman the Pharisees displayed, I felt I was always before a crowd, ready to be judged and condemned. While others placed some of these stones within my life, I gladly tied many of them to myself. Even though I accepted God's offer of mercy and grace, I could only stare at the ground ready to be stoned.
However, God is persistent in his pursuit of us. He poured grace and mercy on me until finally I broke through the weight of rejection, worthlessness, and all the other stones heaped on me. Of course, this breakthrough did not occur overnight or in a week. It was a process to be endured, but a process I gladly accepted.