Sandcastles

Posted by Dr. John Milller on

Jesus and I don’t always see eye to eye, especially when it comes to building in the sand.  I grew up singing the Sunday School song about the wise man and the foolish man:

“The wise man built his house upon the Rock, (repeat 3X)
And the rains came tumbling down.
The rains came down and the floods came up, (repeat 3X)
But the house on the Rock stood firm.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand, (repeat 3X)
And the rains came tumbling down.
The rains came down and the floods came up, (repeat 3X)
And the house on the sand went crash!”

This song is based upon Matthew 7: 24-27, where Jesus says that only the foolish build upon the sand.  Well, call me foolish then, because that is one of my most beloved hobbies – building sandcastles.  Now that the summer is upon us, you may find me on one or more of the weekend days at Oakland Beach with my sand toys, building a sandcastle.  I’ve been doing so since my high school days on the beaches of California. 

Over the years I learned some important life lessons as I’ve played in the sand. I’d like to share a few of them with you.

1) When asked by an observer, “Are you working off of a plan?” the answer is “No.”  No two are ever alike.  It is a reminder to me that sometimes we need to allow space for God’s Spirit to be at work within us, leading us to new things and places and ways of being that we may never have planned for.

2) When asked by children if they can help (even my own over the years), the answer is “No, thank you.” I learned that I need some things in my life in which I can take refuge and be renewed and refreshed, and that it’s okay if that is an individual activity and not shared.

3) People sometimes say, “That’s a lot of work, only to have it washed away.”  Sandcastles remind me that nothing in life, even my own life, is permanent.  As the hymn says, “Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all our years away…”  Just because it will be washed away, doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth investing in, whether it is a sandcastle, a relationship, a life.

4) When I am finished building, I like to sit in my chair and look at what I have created.  There is some sense, for me, of it feeling like, “and on the seventh day he rested…” As Kohelet writes in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13: “12I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; 13moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.”

5) The final lesson that I’ve learned over the years is to share.  While I may not want others to share in the building process with me, I do enjoy sharing the fruit of my labor.  So what I most often do, when I am done looking at my sandcastle and as I prepare to leave the beach, is to find a child, or some children, who have been watching me build.  I tell them that they are welcome to play with the sand-castle.  Parents often tell the children not to touch it or break it.  I tell them that it’s okay. For there is also joy to be found on the face of a five-year-old who runs full speed to jump into the center of a sandcastle.  While the waves may lap at the walls, and slowly bring it down, they cannot match the joy of a child creating a new mound of sand out of an old sandcastle.

May God give to you an opportunity for re-creation and renewal this summer.

Peace,

    John

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