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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Calling and the Art of Sandcastles

Ryan got home last night from a four-day business trip. When his plane had landed and he'd caught a taxi, he texted to say that he was on of his way. "You OK?" he wanted to know. "Today's post was a sad one." He was of course referring to yesterday's blog post where I lamented that I was a failure and nothing but a failure. I know it may have been hard to read, but that was a good post to write - as many posts are. Having to pin words onto what would otherwise remain vague feelings is a really helpful exercise. And generally the whole routine just helps me see how ridiculous I can really be.

But on one final note of the whole "performance" dimension of calling, I wanted to post an illustration from Ian Falconer's ironic children's book, Olivia. I think it depicts what many of us feel - ok, maybe only me.

Olivia's gone to the beach with her family, and her mother has taught her to build sandcastles.

She got quite good. (The illustration is of Olivia's sandcastle - which is a replica of the Empire State building.)

I sometimes think that this is how I imagine my co-labor with God. He puts a bucket and shovel in my hands, and voilà. I'm building the Empire State building.

And of course the real irony is: it may be beautiful, and it may be impressive, but let's not ignore the simple fact that it could be a sandcastle.

It will not resist the reach of the tide.

"The grass withers, the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."

The Scripture is pretty clear about the eternality of things. Human achievement and accomplishment, apart from Christ, are sandcastles: they go the way of summer's grass and flowers when the days shorten.

The purposes of God stand. His word is eternal.

And that's something to take with me into calling.

Failure may bruise, but it could be the severest of all mercies. It may be the only thing to warn me of self-congratulations on my sandcastles.