Sand Castles: A Summer Challenge to Teens

Reposted from 2009 when I was a youth pastor. -JB

 If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards” (Matthew 7:25-27 MSG).

boy_and_wave-compI watched the little tike as he built his sand castle with great care and pride on the beach shore.  He must have been 5 years old.  Just as he was putting the finishing touches on his castle wall, a large boat pulling a wake boarder cruised by just a stones throw out from the shore.  Within seconds the waves hit the shore and wiped out the boy’s sand masterpiece.  And he ran to his mommy in tears.

Life went on for this little boy.  He soon got over the destruction of his sand castle and was soon laughing on the playground minutes later.

Unfortunately, many of us never completely grow out of the foolish practice of building fragile castles in the sand.  Jesus is well aware of the many storms and crashing waves that no doubt come our way.  So, he instructs us to build our lives on the firm foundation of his teachings.  As we apply his truth to our lives we make our lives into a strong, sturdy house where the Holy Spirit dwells.  Those who don’t apply Jesus’ teachings to their lives make their life into a fragile sand castle — an easy target for the next waves that comes ashore.

This past Wednesday was our final Wednesday night Fusion gathering of the school year.  In other words, my last chance to challenge our teens before they disperse for the summer to face all the challenges the world will throw at them.  My challenge to our group involved 3 points:

1. MAKE SOMETHING THAT LASTS.  While it is good to relax and take a vacation, summer doesn’t need to be a giant “waste of time.”  I challenged our students to “make something of your summer.”  Do something that will have a lasting impact: make a new friend, go on a mission or adventure trip, learn a new skill, get out of your comfort zone, serve at the Food Outreach, read the Bible more often.  Make something that will last.

2. BUILD ON THE ROCK, NOT SAND.  We spent the entire Fusion year studying the teachings of Jesus.  I reminded students of Jesus’ strong warning that “if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter.”  Ouch!  Sharp warning.  Now is the time to put these things into practice and build upon Christ and not the quick sand of the world’s ways.

3. HELP THOSE SINKING IN THE SAND.  I challenged students to be on the look out for their friends and peers who will no doubt be making choices that will leave them sinking in the world’s quick sand.  We need to recognize those sinking all around us and go and be the hands and feet of Jesus, helping pull them out of the mess they’re in.  Jesus didn’t stand self-righteously on the sidelines judging those who are foolishly building in the sand.  He jumped into the sand with them and came underneath them in love, forgiveness, service and grace.

So, let’s all take Jesus at his word and build our lives on the rock this summer and go after all those all around us who are sinking in the sand.  Remember that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). 

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