I stood on the Florida beach and looked admiringly at the sandcastles. These were very well done. One of them was a three-foot sized starfish that looked almost real. It was obvious that a great deal of effort had gone into constructing these sandcastles. The artist, who stood nearby, was a man of about thirty-five years of age. Not all sandcastles are made by children.
The unfortunate thing was that each morning of the next day the sandcastles were gone. Some were taken away by the waves during the night, some just fell apart because they dried out, and some were wrecked by a tractor which came by early each morning to smooth out the sand for people who would use the beach that day. I pondered about what we can learn from all of this..
Putting effort into things that will perish is what this world is all about. The great of this world are people with money and power. And what happens to that money or power when they die? It all goes away.
Adolph Hitler was a man who had massive power. He terrorized the world - including the people of Germany. The whole world stood in fear of Hitler and those nations which were successful in their fight against him were nearly bankrupt by the effort. Yet Hitler died as all people do. What good does that power do him now? He built one of the most impressive sandcastles of the twentieth century but that empire was destroyed even before he died. He shook the world but now he is dead.
It reminds me of a scripture in Isaiah 14:16-20. (I realize this scripture does not apply specifically to Hitler. But it fits so many of this world’s tyrants.) “Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate. Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home? All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot you will not join them in burial for you have destroyed your land and killed your people.”
A few seek power as Hitler did but the most common way of building sandcastles in our society is striving for money. We are very materialistic and many readers of this article are in that trap and don’t even know it. The comedian Jack Benny was told, “Jack you can’t take it with you.” His reply was “Then I’m not going.” Of course this was all a comedy routine but Jack Benny did die and took no money with him. What are we striving for? What fills our minds more than we’d care to admit to others?
In the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), Jesus said “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Verse 15)” How many people do we know who agree with Jesus on this? How many people by their actions show they disagree? What about us? What do our actions show? Are we in massive credit card debt because there are things “we must have” whether we can afford them or not? How many fights occur in our homes over money? Who says we must always have more and we must strive and worry if we don’t? Isn’t this life just a temporary mist that appears then just vanishes (James 4:14)?
Always remember that it all goes away when we die, but God has promised to provide for us now and give us eternal life if we seek the Kingdom and his righteousness first.
Even the great of this world find what they strive for goes away, sometimes even while they still live. One of the great explorers of the world was Christopher Columbus. It took great daring on his part to sail into unknown territory and he found a world he didn’t know was there. After his first voyage in 1492 he returned to Spain and was at the top of the world. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed him admiral and made him viceroy of all the territory he discovered. Yet he was a poor administrator and was even arrested and taken back to Spain in chains after his third voyage. He was released and sailed one more time but nobody cared about him anymore. He died only fourteen years after he had first landed in the new world. At his funeral no representative of the king followed his coffin. And the new world was named America not Columbia. It was named after Amerigo Vespucci, another explorer who reached the new world after Columbus and because of Columbus.
Surely trying to build anything lasting in this world is an illusion. We should not be distracted but instead look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb.11:10).
Some of the information in this article concerning Christopher Columbus was taken from “The Voyages of Columbus” by Rex and Thea Rienits and “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” by Samuel Eliot Morison.