A couple of days ago, while the weather was still cold, but clear, my husband and I visited one of the many beaches along the eastern coast of Lake Michigan. The beaches are popular throughout the summer months, especially those with lots of dunes and smooth sand for sunbathing and picnics and beach volleyball. We’re the sort of odd ducks who like to visit in the off-season, bundled in parkas and combing the rocky shores looking for unique stones and beach glass.
I was reminded of Jesus’ parable of the two men– one who built his house upon the rock, and the other who built his on sand. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A24-27&version=ESV. Sandy beaches are wonderful to visit in the summer, when the weather is perfect, the sun is shining, and the lake is calm. But over the winter months, people avoid sandy beaches (as we did) because the wind and waves can erode great patches of sand, moving it about and changing the shoreline considerably. On the bigger public beaches, crews put up fences to keep the winter gales from blowing sand away from the shore and into the parking lots and streets. The fences also trap the sand and snow on the shore. Snow banks that form on the beach can melt and carry the sand back into the lake, forming new sand bars that can cause damage to small boats. Even in the summer, large waves can produce undertows and dangerous currents for the unwary.
In many ways, sand is like sin. Sand is attractive– smooth and glistening in the sun. It is warm and seems to yield to the touch. But sand shifts; it blows and drifts easily, but it sticks in place where we least want it, tiny grains getting into hair and clothes, shoes, and beach towels. It slips away, slides from under our feet, fails to hold its shape, unless we wet it down and pack it, and then it crumbles under the action of the waves.
Rock, on the other hand, is secure. It takes centuries to erode; it doesn’t shift or fall away. A rocky coast may not seem as inviting for pleasure, but it makes a far better foundation for a home or a lighthouse. Even the smaller stones along the beach do not blow around in a strong wind, nor do they melt away with the snow.
Beach stones can offer further illustrate how God works in our lives. Stones on the beach start out with sharp edges. They are cold and hard and uneven. But over time, the rocks are slowly churned by the waves and the movement of smaller rocks and sand, and they are smoothed and polished by their environment. Among the sharp rocks are beautiful agates and quartz, their varied colors seeming to absorb sunlight and heat. Just so, we are transformed from hard and cold isolated individuals as we absorb the Son’s character. And, as we are churned up against others, and the hard edges get smoothed away, His beautiful character is revealed in us, and we shine. With further polishing, the stones reveal the kind of strength and beauty that make them worthy of being displayed or set in jewelry. Not every rock along the beach will go through this transformation..some will remain hard and sharp; others will be ground into sand. But some will cry out in their beauty and strength as testimonies of God’s eternal process of redemption.