Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 16, 2006


An unusual gift reminds me that only one thing lasts forever


          The most unusual gift ever given me is a piece of stone from the city of Split in Croatia. My dear friend Klaus Guenzel gave me the stone as a gracious expression of his friendship. Klaus is a lieutenant colonel in the German Air Force.

          I pressed him to tell me the stone’s history and why he gave it to me. His answer was as unusual as the stone itself and made the stone powerfully significant to me. So let me explain why it has become one of my most treasured possessions.

          Klaus found the stone in ruins near what was once the beautiful palace built at the end of the third century by Roman Emperor Diocletian. The palace was situated on the Adriatic Coast in Split, now one of the largest cities in Croatia, formerly the Republic of Yugoslavia.

          Was the stone once part of a proud palace column? Perhaps, though no one knows. It may have been and that is the point Klaus makes to me. Imagine the power of the emperor. He could send thousands of soldiers to do his bidding. Rome ruled the world and Diocletian was its mighty ruler.

          People stood in awe and fear of the great Roman Empire. They imagined it would last forever for no other nation on earth could match the power of Rome.

          Now Rome is gone. Its mighty emperors strut their stuff no more. My piece of stone reminds me that empires come and go.  Proud marble palaces eventually crumble and fall. Even my little stone will one day be little more than a handful of sand and dust.

          Klaus asks me to tell him what does last. Does anything last forever? He answers his own question by quoting Jesus: “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.” My little stone reminds me that only one thing lasts forever – Jesus and his words. They will never lose their power. They will remain when all the world’s palaces lie in ruins.

          Honestly I had never heard of the city of Split, though I had heard about Emperor Diocletian. I have marveled this week at the message of my stone. I have thought of old Diocletian. Once he was the most powerful man on earth. Now he is but a footnote in the history books. No one remembers a word he ever said.

          Jesus, on the other hand, is quoted by millions of people. His words are so powerful they have been translated into almost every language in the world. His words remain, and so does he.

          One simple sentence spoken by Jesus will be proclaimed with confident joy on this Day of Resurrection on every continent – “Because I live, you will live also!”

          Today many will hear the story of the big stone that was rolled away from the tomb, but I will let my precious little stone speak to me its message of eternal hope. I will thank God for my brother Klaus whose gift of friendship is even more precious than the stone.  And I will thank God for this most unusual gift that will always remind me of the one thing that lasts forever – the words of our Risen Lord.

          Hallelujah! He lives! + + + +