Sandcastle Stories, by Max Lucado
Max is one of my favorite authors. I hope this story will
incent you to buy one or more of his books.
"They knew nothing about what was happening."
Hot sun. Salty air. Rhythmic waves.
A little boy is on the beach. On his knees he scoops
and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red
bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and
lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle
tower is created.
All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat.
Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle
sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.
Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.
A man is in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers
into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the
phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his
fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and
much to the delight of the man, a profit is made.
All his life he will work. Formulating the plans.
Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital
gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.
Two builders of two castles. They have much in
common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see
nothing and make something. They are diligent and
determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end
Yet, that is where the similarities cease. For
the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the
boy as the dusk approaches. Each wave slaps
an inch closer to his creation. Every crest crashes closer than
the one before .
But the boy doesn't panic. He is not
surprised. All day the pounding waves have reminded him that the end
is inevitable. He knows the secret of the surging. Soon
they will come and take his castle into the deep.
The man, however, doesn't know the secret. He
should. He, like the boy, lives surrounded by rhythmic
reminders. Days come and go. Seasons ebb and flow.
Every sunrise which becomes a sunset whispers the
secret, "Time will take your castles."
So, one is prepared and one isn't. One is peaceful
while the other panics.
As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet
and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No
regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised.
And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and
his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He
smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father's hand, and
The grown-up, however, is not so wise. As the wave
of years collapses on his castle he is terrified. He hovers
over the sandy monument to protect it. He blocks the
waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked
and shivering he snarls at the incoming tide.
"It's my castle," he defies.
The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom
the sand belongs.
Finally the cliff of water mounts high above the man
and his little empire. For just a moment he is shadowed
by the wall of water ... then it crashes. His tiny towers
of triumph crumble and disperse and he is left on his
knees ... clutching muddy handfuls of yesterday.
If only he had known. If only he had listened. If
But he, like most, never listens.
Jesus describes these people, the unprepared, by saying
they know nothing about what will happen. They
aren't cruel. They aren't rebellious or angry at God.
But they are blind. They don't see the setting sun.
And they are deaf. They don't hear the pounding waves.
During the last week of his life, Jesus took valuable
time to tell us to learn the lesson of the waves and
prepare for the end.
Remember, the reason we are studying the last week
of Christ is to see what is on his heart. Hear what he says.
See who he touches. Witness what he does. We've seen
his compassion for the forgotten. We've seen his contempt
for the fake. Now a third passion surfaces: his
concern for our readiness. "No one knows when that day
or time will be, not the angels in heaven, not even the
Son. Only the Father knows."'
His message is unmistakable: He will return, but no
one knows when. So, be ready.
It's the message of the parable of the virgins.2
It's the message of the parable of the talents.3
It's the message of the parable of the sheep and the goats.
It's a message we must heed.
But it is a message often ignored.
I was reminded of this not long ago when I boarded
a plane. I walked down the aisle, found my seat, and sat
down next to a strange sight.
The man seated next to me was in a robe and slippers. He
was dressed for the living room, not for a
journey. His seat was odd, too. Whereas my seat was the
cloth type you normally see, his was fine leather.
"Imported," he said, when he noticed I was looking.
"Bought it in Argentina and put it on myself. "
Before I could speak he pointed to some inlaid
stones in the armrest. "The rubies I purchased in Africa.
They cost me a fortune."
That was only the beginning. His fold-down table
was of mahogany. There was a portable TV installed
next to the window. A tiny ceiling fan and globed light
hung above us.
I had never seen anything like it.
My question was the obvious one, "Why did you
spend so much time and expense on an airline seat?"
"I live here," he explained. "I make my home on the
"You never get off?"
"Never! How could I deboard and leave such comfort?"
Incredible. The man made a home out of a mode of
transportation. He made a residence out of a journey.
Hard to believe? You think I'm stretching the truth?
Well, maybe I haven't seen such foolishness in a plane,
but I have in life. And so have you.
You've seen people treat this world like it was a
permanent home. It's not. You've seen people pour time
and energy into life like it will last forever. It won't,
You've seen people so proud of what they have done,
that they hope they will never have to leave--they will.
We all will. We are in transit. Someday the plane will
stop and the deboarding will begin.
Wise are those who are ready when the pilot says to
I don't know much, but 1 do know how to travel.
Carry little. Eat light. Take a nap. And get off when you
reach the city.
And I don't know much about sandcastles. But children do,
Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but
build with a child's heart. When the sun sets and the tides
take--applaud. Salute the process of life, take your
father's hand, and go home.
end. Buy Max's books. They will enrich your life.