I heard it from the living room. It was clanging around inside the dryer. It would bang, then roll, then go silent for a few seconds as it got swept up into the clothes. A few seconds later it would find the drum again and make a clattering noise for several seconds before once again being thrown into the midst of the clothes.
I was able to ignore it for about five minutes. I went into the laundry room, opened the dryer door and extracted a rock.
It wasn't just any rock. It was one of Cole's prize rocks, which he forgot to remove from his pants pocket.
I didn't realize so many prize rocks existed, but it seems as if Cole finds one nearly every day. And he knows where every one of them came from. It's like he has a mental catalog of every rock that's lined up on his dresser.
I'll pick one up and he'll say, "I found that one on the playground at school."
I'll pick up another and he'll say, "I found that one in the church parking lot. It's God's rock, but I'm keeping it for him."
Over time, the rock population in our house has become unmanageable. One day I made the mistake of suggesting we get rid of some of them.
"No! Don't throw my rocks away!" he cried.
I tried to explain to him that we weren't going to throw the rocks away. Instead, we were going to take them to the drainage easement that borders our property and "release them back into the wild."
Cole would have none of that. Each rock is special, each one is unique. Yet he knows each rock — he loves each rock — and he wants every one of them to be his.
As it is with Cole and rocks, so it is with God and us.
God has created every human being as individuals. As such, we're all unique. Yet God knows every one of us, down to the smallest detail (Matthew 10:30).
God also knows our sin (Psalm 44:21). Yet despite our sin, he still loves us (Romans 5:8) and sent Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:6).
Why? Because God wants every one of us to accept Christ as our savior and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). And when we're saved, we will become one of his.
The only thing that can prevent that from happening, though, is if we refuse Christ because we've allowed our hearts to become as hard and unyielding as one of Cole's rocks.
Parrish Myers is a local minister. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesville times.com/life.