He crouched down by the water, watching the small brook rush upon the stones. He dipped his left hand in and let the deep coolness play upon his fingers for a moment. He reached for a stone, small and dark, and brought it forth.
He studied it as he patted his hand dry against his thigh. The stone was dark gray, mottled with black specks and the slightest twinge of red. He bounced it in his hand two or three times. Heavy enough. The right size. Pretty, too. He reached for his bag and placed the rock in the well-worn leather pouch.
He’d always loved collecting rocks. He liked to choose just the right ones, for shape or size, or simply for that certain something that just seemed... right. A diamond, a ruby, these things meant very little to him. But a nice rock. That was something special. Sometimes, he liked to use his knife to etch a message into its surface.
Again he dipped his hand into the water, and this time pulled out a small but heavy red stone, black veins coursing through it, and smooth from the rhythms of the river. He turned it in his hands for a moment, inspecting it with furrowed brow. A little small, but this, too, he placed in his satchel.
Twice more he pulled stones from the river, and placed them in his pack.
Again, he knelt down and pulled one more stone from the brook. This one was squarish, but smooth. From his belt, he pulled out a sling. It was made of tightly wound wool, worn and stained with time and a thousand stones. He put the squarish rock in its small, curved leather pouch, held both ends of the sling in his strong left hand, and whirled it at his side.
Across the wadi was a tree. Its branches dead with age, it was gray and had a large knot just below the fork of its decaying branches. The sling spun at his side, until he carefully raised it above his head, and took aim. The sound of the whistling cord filled his ears until, with a grunt and squint, he let go, sending the stone flying.
Lord, I’m gonna need to do better than that.
He picked up another stone, placed it in the sling’s satchel, and took aim once again, his brows curled with concentration.
For Israel, and for the name of our God.
The stone flew, straight and true, hitting the tree across the river with a thok, missing its target by inches.
“Better,” he sighed, “but bad.”
For a third time, he dipped his hand in the river, and placed a stone in the sling. He breathed deeply.
Lord, I know you can do this. I know that I can’t without you.
The whirling sling sung above his head, and after a moment, he let fly the stone. He watched it spiral and soar above the water, praying as it flew.
The stone hit the knot, and stayed there.
He scampered across the shallow waters to inspect what he could hardly believe. He ran his fingers across the embedded stone, his lips parted in awe.
“This is good,” he whispered. “This is very good.”
He pried the stone from the bark, inspecting it, almost expecting to discover something in the stone that held a secret. He placed it in his satchel.
“Five stones,” he smiled. “A good number.”