Of Sandboxes And Sandals
Written by Donna on 15 September 2013.

Never having been one that had talents that wowed the masses, a fan following has never been characteristic of my journey.

Although I was good in sports, I was not a star athlete. Although I sang and produced music a bit in my early Christian years, I was not an established musician. Most people didn’t believe I was creating the music tracks to which I sang anyway, as I didn’t fit the stereotype of a funk producer. I wasn’t cool-looking, or eclectic; I was just a small-framed little lady that didn’t say a whole lot in conversations.

Even on the social media sites, my following is not phenomenal. And even the interaction with connections or friends on the social sites is minimal. I support many by “liking” their comments or photos, but very few reciprocate – which tells me they are doing other things and obtaining more satisfaction from those things than from interaction with me. About the only thing I post in the social sites that gets any response at all are photos of myself. Which tells me that that I am valued for my appearance more than my mind. And that aligns, of course, with the prevailing secular philosophy that a woman’s appearance is the most valuable thing about her. And that revelation is disconcerting because it is perpetuated by God’s people as well.

But in view of that fact, it’s amazing how so much is driven by the opinions of so few. The images of what we are to be, have, like, or say, are driven by a few. Opinions of how we are to act or feel are driven by a few. And most of us acquiesce to the philosophical boundaries – or boxes, I should say – of those few.

But for those of us who don’t fall in line with those prevailing opinions, isolation is going to be the norm. Solitude is going to be the lifestyle. Being alone for some or much of life’s journey will be normal.

Yet every generation has seen its share of mavericks who rage against the norm. Ironically, if you’re weird enough, or crazy enough, you indeed make a mark at some point and gain some followers, fans, or supporters. I’m talking about in life, in general – not social sites – so please hear me. You gain some degree of approval from a few. You garner some amount of “love” from a few. But for the most part, if you have something most believe they can gain from being associated with you, their loyalty will be as fleeting as a moth in the flame. Their interest in you will burn with passion and expediency for a split second, and then they will be gone.

But I am envisioning the lives of others who might be like me. The vision I have is of a sea of people on a large beach or seashore. Some of the people are milling about, others are lying under umbrellas, others tanning on lawn chairs, and others are splashing about in the surf. And then there are young kids in areas that have been established as a sandbox by a loving parent. A sandbox… in a sea of sand!

Some of the kids are simply filling pails with sand, packing it down, and pouring it out to make “pail” piles. Others, however, are building and fashioning literal works of art in their sandbox. Some may venture out of their sandbox to obtain more sand, but there is really no need to – all the sand they need is in their sandbox. They might just need to dig a little deeper, and therefore their position goes a little deeper. But all the sand they need is already there in their own sandbox that their parent has cordoned off for them.

But it’s OK to venture outside of the sandbox. It’s not detrimental because their parent has a watchful eye over them. But if they dig deeper into their own sandbox, they might find a small treasure – a little seashell, a toy that someone before them lost, a trinket, a shark’s tooth, a tiny sand dollar, and so on. Some of the kids are creative enough to incorporate their treasures into their own works of art inside the sandbox. But they, for the most part, are in their own little world, in their sandbox, surrounded by a sea of sand, a sea of people, and a sea of water.

But very few in the sea of people milling around come to the children’s sandboxes to take note of what the kids are building. In fact, compared to the number of people on the beach, interest by others can be estimated to be zero. Only their parent takes note of what they’re doing 99.999999% of the time there’s outside interest in their sandcastles. The other 0.000001% who take interest might be other kids in other sandboxes nearby. But all of the kids are in their own little sandboxes, in a sea of sand, in the midst of a sea of people, near a sea of water. Keep that visual picture in mind.

Now we flash to the image of some dusty brown sandals on a man’s feet, picking up sand as the man walks in His daily life. These are sandals whose latches John the Baptist said he was not worthy to unfasten. Those sandals picked up sand from the dusty roads of Jerusalem and neighboring cities. Those sandals were worn by the most pivotal Person in the history of the universe. Those sandals picked up sand in the journeys and ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Only a few were close enough to Him to experience His ministry in all of its facets. Multitudes surrounded Him, but only a precious few were involved, or followed Him personally, or were devoted to Him.

And when He sent His disciples out to minister to others, He told them,

8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.
9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say,
11 'The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.'

Luke 10:8-11 (NKJV)
Keep the image of Luke 10:11 in mind. Now, flashback to the children in the sandboxes, in the midst of a sea of sand, surrounded by a sea of people, near a sea of water. Our Heavenly Father is the Parent Who watches over us, the children, and our sandcastle masterpieces. He has placed us in our own sandbox, surrounded by a sea of people, near a sea of water that represents commonalities of life with the sea of people. That sea of people mill around, oblivious to and not interested at all in the sandcastles He masterfully watches us build in our sandboxes from the sea of sand.

The sea of sand represents the depth of His knowledge found in His Word, which is free for all to take and build their own sandcastle masterpieces. And the deeper we dig, the more treasures we find. We can incorporate those little treasures into our sandcastle masterpieces, for all to partake of and learn from.

But precious few in the sea of people will partake of it. Only a few other children, in other sandboxes, in their own little worlds (which are not unlike our own little isolated worlds in our own little sandboxes) might take notice of us in our own sandboxes, building sandcastles like them. Only a few other little children, those who have come to Him like a child, will take note of our masterpieces in our sandboxes.

But by-and-large, the children and adults in the sea of people won’t take note of our masterpieces. They’re too busy watching the sea of people. They are too caught up floundering and splashing around in the sea of water – their life experiences – to even take note of the sea of sand, let alone our sandcastle masterpieces in the midst of them.

But eventually, the tumultuous deluge of life’s challenges will span its boundary and swallow up the sea of people, or make them flee to their fragile homes which are no match for the tsunamis of tragedy and challenges. Eventually even our sandboxes and sandcastle masterpieces, which no one paid attention to, will be washed away by the sea of water of life events, for “… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV)

But in the meantime, our Parent will tell each of us when it’s time to stop building our masterpieces and time to go home. He will survey our work that we so diligently built in the sand. He will pick us up in His arms, wipe the loose sand off of us, and shake it off of our clothes as a testimony to others that we have been laborers – diligent laborers in the vast sandy and deep sea of His Word. And then He’ll take us home.

So the next time you’re tempted to give up because no one seems to be paying attention – the next time you think your labor of love is futile because no one notices, or comments, or “Likes” your sandcastles – remember this story of sandboxes and sandals. And keep building - diligently, silently, alone, or with an occasional glance from one or two more of His kids. Your Father sees every sandcastle. And when it’s time to go, He’ll cuddle you in His arms, and take you home, leaving the sandcastles, sandbox, sea of sand, sea of people, and sea of life’s challenges, to concern you no longer.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:21 (ESV)