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Sand Castles
by Michelle Fout
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My family just recently took a trip to England and we went around the country side visiting castle after castle, but nothing was as impressive as the Windsor Castle just outside London. It was amazingly huge and filled with all manner of worldly and important things. They even had their own cathedral…St. Georges Chapel, right there within walking distance.

I finally realize I have been on a ten year camp out with God. Just as the Israelites camped out with God for three years in the Wilderness of Sin before being led to the edge of the promise land; I too have been spending time in the sand and taking visits to the edge of something so much better than I could create or imagine.

God has used my vacation experience to show me what I have been doing out in the sinking sands of sin. Even as He has walked with me and brought me up out of the captivity of sin that my hostile mind had sold me into, I immediately began to build sand castles of Goliath proportions to run back to time and time again.

I have been taken to the edge of promise and back out into the desert of discipline more times than I dare to admit, but each time I come to the edge, I see new things, a richer inheritance, something more beautiful than I saw the last time. God has taken me back out into the sand because there is that seed of rebellion still at work within me. The yeast has not been removed from my house and He is insistent that I not take it with me into His.

The desert of discipline has been a long walk along new pathways of obedience. Each time I have gone out into the sand, the Lord has taken me along a new route; regardless of the new paths the destination has remained the same. In that vast wilderness of sinking sand, I have built a grand structure, a shimmering stronghold, a vast fortress of unbelief, complete with a temple of idolatry.

I have built my own Windsor Castle and God has made it clear that all the victories I have experienced up to now have only been aimed at the fortress ramparts, the outer walls surrounding the castle. The “fortress of unbelief” still stands strong. The “chapel of idolatry” has not been destroyed. The lights are still on, welcoming me home.

God has shown me on my trips out to the edge of promise with Him, that He can be trusted, I have had victories by his side, the walls are coming down, but there is still a place to return to, one that I long to return to…my fortress…and until I choose which I desire more, a view from the edge is all I will get with Him. He will never leave me or forsake me but his boundary lines are clear. I will take you this far and no farther until this seed of rebellion has been uprooted and burned, torn down and destroyed to dust.

I am not sure why He has chosen to give me this new perspective now. We’ve been taking these trips for a decade. He has had me in front of my walls, brought me out from behind them into new freedom, but only recently has he shown me what the castle is, what its name is, and what it looks like to him.

At the Windsor Castle, there is a long picture board that shows the whole Castle and grounds. Looking at the picture board, after walking up the long drive towards this huge structure, I gained a sense of understanding. I knew as I approached the gates…”Wow this thing is HUGE!” but when I saw that picture board I realized how vast it truly was, this picture board gave me a glimpse of the extent and range of this monarch’s royalty and power. This was only one of the Queen’s castles; only one, the one she was most proud of owning. Here is where she displays her power for the world to see. Buckingham Palace is an office building where she works compared to Windsor Castle the true hallmark of her power and dominion. I guess God chose a new path, one that finally provided the right height for me to grasp what I was seeing in its entirety.

I now see what I have built. This seed of rebellion, this small patch of yeasty dough…well it isn’t as small as I thought. The illusion of power that I have given it is vastly repugnant to God. All the work I have done with Him on our walks, all the victories I have won with Him, has not damaged this stronghold. I have broken down some outer walls and been given more ways to escape when I have sold myself captive again to the illusion of protection this stronghold provides. That is all that has happened though. If I truly want to experience freedom and truth, I must tear down this sandstone leviathan. I cannot trust the gods I have bowed to while inside that structure. There can be no altars that do not bear the name of the One True God. No false lights to guide the way out of his protection and love.

I am so grateful for this perspective. Rather than being disheartened, I feel relieved. This is what I am facing, this is why I have spent ten years in the sand, trekking over the same old ground and arriving back at the same walls. Now I can agree with God and say, this thing I have built with my right hand is a lie. I agree, it must come down, I see it for the lie it is and it offers me nothing because it is nothing. It is something I created and therefore it must come down and God will help because that is His will. He will not let me be snatched from his hand and He wants to rid me of those things that would tempt me out of it with false assurance of a better way.

Now that I have seen the fruit of my work while cooperating with my enemy in the past, I can now choose who I will cooperate with in the future. When I begin to feel fear, I must own that fear and submit it to God. Where ever I am, the moment I feel the fear that would have previously sent me seeking for the shelter of my sand castle, I must stop and stand my ground because my true shelter is right there with me. I do not have to take a single step to find it, I only have to look up and seek his face. He will do the rest. Leaning into his shield of faith, that he gives me to ward off the flaming arrows of the evil one, puts me smack into the Mightiest Fortress this world, or I can hope for. Nothing I build would ever match it.

When fear would have me bend my knee to avoid the blow, I must remember that kneeling to it is idolatry. If I bend my knees, let it be to the One who is a Mighty Warrior, and let them bend so I may safely watch that the killing blow that comes is against my enemy not from him.

This fortress of unbelief was not built in a day and likely won’t come down in one day either. I can say that the lights are much dimmer, the power of misplaced belief no longer fuels the generators and it no longer looks so worldly and important or powerful to me. It looks like what it is, a sand castle. I have been to the edge of promise; it is green and full of victories waiting to be won. This rebellion within me must end so that my true battles may begin.

Heb 11:13-16 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

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