Sand Castle Kingdoms

Sand snuggled up to my toes, salty water rushing over my feet, sky bursting with brilliant colors - there’s nothing more humbling and awe-inspiring than standing on the seashore, allowing the waves to inch up and remind me that I’m part of a bigger Story. There is something about being outside the everyday norm that reminds me that I am not the main character of this life. In no way have I added to the ocean, painted the sunset, or carved out the grains of sand. I am a spectator, an embracer of the beauty and the vastness of the world around me.

And yet, I often think I’m the creator and the originator of these great ideas. I think I hold the world, well, my world and the world of those around me, together. Quick glimpses of the larger view of creation are good for the soul, and they put me in my place, but they are rare to come by. 

As a stay-at-home mama of a five month old, an online business owner, and a wife to my husband of three years, I spend a lot of my days nestled into the comfort of our home. My fridge is within reach, fully stocked with food (most of the time), I throw soiled clothing into the washing machine to clean up the mess I’ve made, and I hop online at anytime and enter into the vast world of the Internet. Most of life is up to me each day. How do I want to spend my minutes? How much will I do? Woven into my heart, I have a desire to be a part of something bigger than the daily tasks before me. My mind is flooded with dreams and ideas that battle the mundane tasks that will take the better part of my day. I often miss the glory of simple moments with my son, longing for bigger, better things. Jesus has called me to this place, this family, in this moment, so why do I long to be somewhere else most days?

I try with all my might to work for the Lord in my home and to share Jesus online, but I often find the tension of wanting to be praised for my efforts, my wisdom, my ideas battling the humility of the small things. The problem is “me.” I desperately need Jesus to come and take over. I need Him to give me a bigger, better vision to build for His kingdom and not my own. Yet when I don’t spend enough time in the Word, looking first at Jesus, I think I am the builder, the glue to the world around me. 

Sand Castles That Wash Away

Some days I fear all I’m doing is building a sand castle. I pack my bags each morning and head out to the shoreline to build. Many of you gather with me at the edge of the ocean where the world meets the day-to-day routine. 

We come out with our buckets, our shovels, and our tools, and we forget that it is only with water and sand that we build. Water and sand are the glue for sand castles. Scientists estimate there are nearly five hundred quadrillion grains of sand on the earth. Of these five hundred quadrillion grains of sand that have each uniquely been created by God, we gather scoopfuls to build sand castles. Castles that will quickly be washed away by the waves of the sea that could consume us in a millisecond if the hand of the Lord did not tell it to stay put at the shoreline. The sand that is the bed of the ocean, that sticks to your fingers after being wet by the salty waters, that gets into every nook and cranny of your bags, is meant to remind us that there this kingdom we build on earth is temporary.

Look Where The Sand Points

The sand we use to build our kingdoms with is meant to point us to our King. Jesus warned us against the sand castle kingdoms we attempt to build. In Matthew 7:24-27, He contrasts His eternal kingdom and our temporary kingdoms, 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Ever since I was a baby in the womb I have been in church. I’ve heard thousands of sermons, attended a private Christian school, and have a lineage of pastors in my family. Needless to say, I’ve heard the Word preached many times. And I’ve been like that foolish person who simply listened and walked away. I’ve been like the one who builds a sand castle kingdom that will be washed away. I’ve learned, and I am learning, that sand castle kingdoms do not provide shelter in the storms of life. They do not provide soft beds when we are tired. They do not welcome in the hungry, the hurting, and the hopeless. No. They simply sit there, looking good on the outside without having treasures on the inside. 

Every day we pick up our shovels and build. If we are not careful, we will even build our own kingdoms in the name of Jesus. We will use the glory of our Savior to add credibility and loveliness to our own names, efforts, and dreams. We will try to grow our social media followings, make our dreams happen, and speak so that we get recognized and our name gets lifted high. We will work in our homes for the praise of our “humility.” We will serve for the praise of our “compassion.” We will create for the praise of our “ideas.” All of these heart motives will fail us. They will wash away like a sand castle does when the waves of life come up to the shoreline. 

Jesus offers us a better way. He invites us in to build His kingdom on the rock. This kingdom is full of all the things we could ever need. This kingdom has a bed for us to rest our heads on, a room for us to sleep in, and a table for us to dine at with Him. This kingdom is forever—it is the kingdom of God. We must be careful when we think that if we don’t get to work, God’s Kingdom won’t be built. What if all you were meant to do in the kingdom of God is to lay one brick? Just one. Or nail one hole?

What if serving your family, playing games with your children, or listening to your friend are all He asks of you today as you build His Kingdom? What if folding those clothes, working with excellence at your job, or doing your best in your college courses glorifies Him most today? 

God does not need us to build His kingdom, but He welcomes us in to His. He gives us a greater purpose than to build the temporary. He invites us in to build with Him and to live for something that is bigger and better, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Bigger, Better Kingdom In The Everyday

I am laying down my tools. I’m laying down my attempts to build in my own strength and speak my own words. I’m laying down my ideas I think are great and my timing I think is best. And I’m trading them for a cross.

The kingdom of God was built with two pieces of wood, one perpendicular to the other. It was built with nails piercing the hands and feet of our Savior. It was built with the stone that was rolled away, revealing the greatest miracle to ever transpire on this earth…a risen Christ. The kingdom of God is not built with shovels or tools; it is built with sacrifice, surrender, and our Savior. 

What if all of the sudden we had no social media, no phones, no outlets? No homes, no bank accounts, no closets full of clothing? No comfort, no heat, no warm blankets to snuggle into after a long day? Would we crumble? What would be our stability?

Let’s lay down our tools and build for His kingdom that endures forever. In our homes, our jobs, our dreams, and our every day routine—let’s build for His glory, keeping our eyes on Jesus Who is building with us and for us. His name endures forever. His name brings life to the weary soul. His name is why we build. He created the five hundred quadrillion grains of sand, and He created you. What an incredible God we serve?

Jesus, we look to You, we build for You, we point to You. Thank you for carving out the grains of sand on this earth and for being the glue that holds our life together. Help us live for the bigger, better Kingdom that lasts forever by being faithful right where we are in what you have called us to do. Be in us all that we cannot be this day. In Your Name. Amen. 

“Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to your name be glory, because of your love and faithfulness..." Psalm 115:1

laying down my tools and picking up my cross,

Gretchen