What building sandcastles taught me about God’s grace

building sandcastles title

I built a lot of sandcastles as a kid.

(Or, I at least tried to build a lot of sandcastles.)

Building sandcastles isn’t easy.

They take a lot of work, patience, perseverance, sand…and water.

Buckets and water.

Every time, I tried to build a sandcastle, I’d have to make dozens of trips back and forth to the ocean to get more water.

I’d pour out the water to make the sand just right, and I’d make a few sandcastles.

And, then I’d inevitably run out of water…my bucket could only hold so much you know.

Fortunately for me, the ocean wasn’t far away.

I learned two basic things early on when it comes to building sandcastles…

You have a limited amount of water that you can give and a limited amount of work you can do with one little bucket. 

But, there is an unlimited supply of water in that ocean. 

Which got me thinking…

What if that bucket represented my life?

What if what’s in the bucket represented everything about me, including all of my time and money and possessions?

What am I filling up my life with…and what am I pouring my life into?

If life is all about filling buckets, pouring them out, and filling them up again…what’s the point?

Then, I started thinking about the ocean…

What if the ocean represented God’s grace?

What if what’s in the bucket is only there because He gave it to me?

What if I saw that all of my time and money and possessions really were a gift from Him, and not something that I earned or deserved?

What if life was all about filling buckets with God’s grace, pouring them out, and filling them up again with more of His grace?

What if that was the point of life?

I think I’d be more generous with my time and money.

I think I wouldn’t be so tied to my possessions.

I think I would worry less about my own comfort.

I think I would rely more on God every day and less on myself.

And, I think I’d be making a lot of trips back to that ocean with my little bucket for more of God’s grace.

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Truth is, I think we tend to think of God’s grace as something that only benefits us spiritually (like in Ephesians 2:8-9).

But His grace gives you so much more than spiritual life.

Think about it…

You would not be physically alive today if it was not for God’s grace. 

He makes your heart beat so that you can breathe.

He gives you hands and feet and a mind so that you can work.

He provides for you and gives you all that you need.

And, it’s all because of His grace.

You did nothing to deserve or earn the day you were born physically, and you did nothing to deserve or earn the day you were born spiritually.

So, what’s the point of life then?

Pour your bucket into other people.

Be generous.

And, keep going back to that ocean.

 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[e] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

 

Is Heaven Worth Investing in?

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Heaven.

What do you think of when you think of heaven?

Have you ever thought about where your impression of heaven comes from?  Probably some combination of books, TV, friends, church, music, art, dreams, and the Bible.

If you’re a Christian, would you say that you think of heaven as an exciting place where you look forward to living forever OR a mysterious place that you’re really not sure you want to spend an eternity?

If you’re honest, maybe it’s a little bit of both.

Maybe you have a pretty good life here on earth…

Maybe you have a lot of ambition and goals for while you’re still here…

Maybe your bucket list is long…

Maybe you’re young and you want to get married and have a family…

Maybe you want to travel…

Maybe you’re comfortable with the certainty of what you can see, feel, touch, and control…

Maybe you just like your “treasures” on earth too much…

Somehow, we’ve made heaven into being the place we HAVE to go when die and not the place we GET to go when we die.

The Bible doesn’t give us a ton of detail about heaven, but it gives us enough to be able to make a choice about how we live our lives here on earth.

The choice…

Invest in the “treasures” of this earth or invest in the “treasures” of heaven.

One choice leads to an investment that lasts forever…

One choice leads to an investment that may not even last as long as you live.

How much are you investing in the stuff that lasts forever?

Investing in heaven means investing your time, money, and talents for God while you’re on earth.

It means understanding that all that you have belongs to God…and you just have a handful of years to take care of it for Him.

But, those handful of years can make or break your eternity.

Investing in heaven is worth it, because you will have treasure to look forward to when you leave this earth behind.

The only other option is to leave all your treasures behind for the moths.

 

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:19-21

 

 

The cost of following Jesus may be your comfort

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Comfort.

We love our comfort.

Comfort foods.

Comfort zones.

The comfort of sitting in the exit row on the plane.

Our favorite pair of comfortable jeans.

We love comfort so much, we’ve turned it into a god.

We avoid hard things.

We insulate ourselves from difficult people.

We micromanage our kids to shield them from having to deal with uncomfortable situations.

We pay more for the things that truly make us feel comfortable.

We work hard to make sure that our families can live comfortably.

Bottom line is that we’ll do anything to stay comfortable…

Even when it comes to our faith.

Think about how this plays out in just one expression of our faith…going to church.

Generally, we find a church where we feel comfortable.

Then, we start going to that church (when it comfortably fits in our schedule).

Once we’ve committed to that church, we interact with (and invest in) people like us there, because it’s the most comfortable thing to do.

After a while, we may even start serving at the church (but only when it’s convenient, in our comfort zone, or benefits us in some way).

How did this happen?

Since when was our faith all about our comfort (and convenience, for that matter)?

Jesus paid a high price for our faith.

He sacrificed everything for us.

What is our faith costing us?

Is our faith a faith of comfort and convenience, or is it a faith that truly messes with our schedules, our comfort zones, and our checkbooks?

Does our faith push us to do hard things?

Does our faith take us out of our comfort zones?

Does our faith stretch us beyond our limits?

Does our faith compel us to make sacrifices that actually cost us something that matters to us?

Or, is it possible that our faith is too comfortable?

Is it possible that we’ve made comfort our god?

Jesus didn’t die for our comfort (and He didn’t live for His own comfort either).

In fact, He made a lot of people uncomfortable with the things He said and did.

It wasn’t uncommon for the crowds to walk away from Him…or even want to kill Him.

“Take up your cross and follow me, ” Jesus said.

“Hate your father and mother in comparison to me,” He told them.

“Eat my flesh and drink my blood…”

Wait…really?  Jesus said that last one?

Yes He did…and many people deserted Him that day, because He was saying things that made them feel uncomfortable.  (You can read the full story in John 6:22-66).

Kind of makes you feel a little uncomfortable too, doesn’t it?

Turns out that loving our comfort is nothing new…people have been doing it for thousands of years.  

And, just like the scene back in John 6, the crowds of today love pursuing the god of comfort more than they love following the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

What about you?

What about your faith?

Is your faith today in the god of comfort or in the God of all comfort?

Are you following the comfort of the crowds right now, or are you willing to be uncomfortable for your faith and follow Jesus?

What is your faith costing you?