Sand Castles or Eternal Refuge?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to play with water and sand.  It sounds weird, I know, but stay with me.  In my backyard, we had a big sand box, and my brothers and I would play in it for hours, creating lakes, rivers, castles and whatever else we could imagine.  I remember this one time, I spent almost a whole day out there making the masterpiece of my childhood.  It was a beautiful mud castle with gates and towers, with a moat around it and a piece of wood for a drawbridge.  I was super proud of that thing.  If it rained, I fixed it with more mud.  If the wind blew the bridge over, I set it back up.  I valued that pile of dirt because it was something I made, something I accomplished.  Eventually, it deteriorated to the point of no return, and I had to let it go.

I’ve spent my whole life, especially the past few years, building me a nice big castle.  This castle isn’t made out of mud though, it’s made out of my accomplishments, each brick crafted by my own strength.  My pride doesn’t come from materialistic accomplishments, it’s rooted in who I’ve cultivated myself to be.  I’m strong, I’m tough, I’m hardworking, I’m responsible.  People say I’ve got a good head on my shoulders because I’m not easily swayed from my values.  When I got upset, I hid deep in my castle, and stuffed my emotions inside.  If some slipped out and broke my walls, I worked hard to rebuild.  I always knew I didn’t have to hide my emotions, but I wanted to because it was so much easier to try to make my strengths stronger than it was to face what I was actually feeling.  So there I was, happy in my castle, not letting anyone inside, except for a chosen few, for the fear if people saw all of me, they would walk right back out.

The thing is, when you live like that for long enough, you begin to fool yourself too.  When hard times come along, you take it in a stride and don’t realize you really just stuff it all behind your walls.  The week we started winter tour, we had some local bookings, and got to stay around Willmar for a couple days.  It was a much needed to time of transitioning back into CTI after being home for Christmas break.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the upcoming months on the road, and how it will all turn out.  I unknowingly put a lot of high expectations on myself to be a better musician, a better teammate, to be more responsible.  There were also some things going on that were out my control, but I made an effort to control how they affected me.  And guess what…I locked myself up tight in my castle.

Well, my walls broke this week.  Not because of the people around me, but because of myself.   I realized I can’t reach my own standards of being good enough, and I didn’t know where or who to turn to.  I was tired, I was empty, and I was sick of trying to prove myself to people who already love me.  God let my castle crumble and now he’s giving me the choice to rebuild with my own strength, or let him sweep away my rubble and created in me something that will not pass away.  If I’m honest, I’m already naturally trying to take care of everything myself.  But I know that’s not what God desires for me.  God created literally everything…he created US.  He knew sin would overtake our lives, so he sent Jesus to be stronger, to crush the grip of sin and death forever by taking our punishment at the cross.  He has proved his love for us through the ultimate sacrifice, so really, what’s keeping us from giving up control to him? 

I don’t know where you’re at today, if you’re sitting happy in a castle made by your own strength, or if you’re sitting in a pile of dirt, with emotions running wild, like me.  But I do know that we all need a savior.  It’s not fun to admit that we need help, believe me I know, but let me tell you right now, God is a much more experienced and powerful creator than we will ever be, and he wants so badly to help us through this life.  I don’t have it all figured out, I’m not sure how to give up everything I think I’m controlling to God.  But I do know that I will never find true peace if not in Christ.  I know that God offers a safe and loving refuge to all who believe in him.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.  It’s worth facing our weaknesses, and emotions, and laying down our tools.  We can keep building sand castles, but ultimately, they can’t compare to the beauty God desires to create in us through faith in Jesus.