My son had worked for an hour, building a sandcastle on a stone in the middle of a tide pool, complete with a bridge and a small village on the shore. He even gave it a tourist attraction, “The Giant’s Footprint”, which made the village famous, prosperous, and secure.
…but not very.
The tide was rising. We could see it closing in, but we thought we still had time before it got to the village. Irish beaches can be surprising, though – the sand can look level as it stretches on and on, but when the water comes up it follows subtle hills and valleys that the eyes hadn’t recognised. One of these small rises had been protecting my son’s tide pool kingdom without us realising it. When the water came over, it came fast.
The first wave flooded everything, and toppled the buildings. A few more waves left no trace of the lively village or its famous footprint. The castle held a little longer, but not by much.
My son was sad. He had invested time and effort in that place, and grown to love it. Now it was gone.
We’re sad, too. The tide has come up in our world more quickly than we thought it would. Sure, we knew it was going to come eventually – we all die, we all know that. The day comes when all our earthly sandcastles give way. But sometimes a wave comes unexpectedly, taking things we thought we’d have longer to enjoy.
This pandemic is our unexpected wave, eroding our confidence and our economy, taking some of us earlier than we expected, showing us how fragile our sandcastle kingdoms really are. Still, most of us will be here after the wave is gone. We’ll rebuild.
They rebuilt after the Spanish flu, didn’t they? And after the the Cholera outbreak, and the Plague. The waves came, humanity survived. But not the same humanity. The people who lived through the Spanish flu are gone now, except a handful who were babies. That was only 100 years ago.
I told my son that’s what happens: The tide always comes. The sandcastles always fall, no matter how big. It is sad. And it’s sad for us: We’ve invested a lot in this place, and we’ve grown to love it. We don’t like to leave, and we don’t like to see our hard work destroyed.
My son had a solution: he built a new castle, but this time he built it high on a rock. He said: “The citizens of the village escaped. They’re safe in this fortress.”
We need that fortress. Sooner or later, the tide comes for our world. It comes for us. But our Maker has built a city that the tide can never reach – a city where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes”, where “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The only way to defeat the old order of things was to defeat our sin, which had caused it. And that’s why the only way to enter the city is to accept it as a gift from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, who died the death we deserve and rose again with the power to save – so that when the tide comes in, those who trust Him can say, forever: “I’ve escaped, and I’m safe in this fortress”