The sea water, wind, and the moon’s invisible arm of gravity pushing and pulling in tidal waves joined forces to destroy the structure. It had been a castle, a sandcastle. I came upon the ruins along a stretch of beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Some sand sculptor, or perhaps several, had spent considerable time building the structure out of nothing but sand.
The unceasing, unending waves’ pounding assault had left the sandcastle in ruins. Soon enough there would be no sign at all that it had ever existed.
Builders of sandcastles know that their creations have a short life-span, usually less than one cycle of the ebb and flow of the tide, perhaps even shorter if there’s a mean little kid walking the beach.
Much of what we work for, make, buy, maintain, and achieve has a limited lifespan, perhaps longer than sandcastles, but not by much, when measured against eternity. We note buildings being demolished that have outlasted their usefulness but are less than 50 years old. That shiny new car we excitedly drove off the car lot 20 years ago and took down the highway while inhaling the new car aroma may be, today, on the flatbed truck of crushed cars we meet on the highway going the other way to the recycling center. I’ve lost count of the number of computers I’ve excitedly bought and then, less than a half-dozen years later, at best, unceremoniously stashed in the closet, unable to bring myself to throw them in the trash, which I inevitably end up doing.
Fortunes gained may be ours, if we’re both smart and fortunate, until the day we die, but not beyond. Fame doesn’t have a long shelf life either. We might remember that a hundred years ago Woodrow Wilson was president (I didn’t, I had to look it up, 1913-1921). I’m sure that his vice-president thought himself fairly famous. How many people can recall his name? Probably just the rare historian with a knack for details. It was Thomas R. Marshall.
What can we do, what can we pour our lives into, that will last and last and last, that will last for an eternity? The answer? That which is important and memorable to our Eternal God. In Christian literature there’s a line in a poem by C.T. Studd that goes like this, “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
We live in a material world where we have to deal with much that won’t last, and that’s okay. God’s made it all and we can use and enjoy it for a time, like the building of sandcastles. We just have to keep it all in perspective, looking beyond building sandcastles, focusing most of all on that which will last, last forever!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21