The Fate of Sand Castles

for the week of May 21, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

You've watched it, too. I know I'm not the first or only person who has seen it. But there is a lesson in it that we both may have overlooked.

There are some children on a beach. They're playing and giggling building sand castles all the while. They seem so intent on the project. You get amused at how meticulous and careful they are with crumbly corners and towers. The looks on their faces as they screw their mouths around and stick out their tongues make you smile. Their resolute concentration on the task is priceless.

Then a big wave begins building and starts toward shore. But the kids don't panic. Instead, they do the strangest thing. They jump to their feet, scream with delight, and watch the torrent of water wash away their creations. There is no panic. No sadness. No bitterness. Even children know the inevitable end of sand castles. They are neither surprised nor angry about what has happened.

You and I should be so wise. The stuff of this world is about as lasting and durable as children's sand castles on the beach. Yet we grownups can get so caught up in it, defensive of it, and depressed over the loss of it.

God didn't create you to be famous, get rich, live in the biggest house, or drive the fanciest car. He created you for his glory. He put you in the world to love people and do holy things. Your destiny is not bound up in physical things, but spiritual. So living to be a hundred is far less important than living well even if for a short time. Beautifying your body is far less urgent than purifying your soul.

Children know that their sand castles are brief joys destined to disappear with an incoming tide. So they don't fret as the waves approach. They watch their creations get swept away without shedding tears. Again, we should be so wise.

Everything about this life is fleeting and perishable. The incoming wave of human mortality is going to sweep it all away. Like sand castles, nothing done for the sake of this world can last. Only what we do for eternity will survive.

What would the loss of your job or business do to you? What if your house were lost to fire or storm? What if a strange pain sent you to your physician and led to the discovery that you have only a few weeks to live? These things really do happen to people, you know. We are all as vulnerable as sand castles.

Life is God's gift. Revel in every good thing. But as you enjoy your creations in the sand, just remember not to get overly attached to them.



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