I watch a toddler approach the waterline, an orange and yellow pail in her hand. The waves of Lake Michigan are calm today, nearly dissipating before they touch the shore with the tenderest of kisses. To the little girl, however, each wave has the potential to rear up and knock her over, so she watches carefully for one to recede, then squats down with her bucket and dips out a cup of water. She runs back to her mother, laughing, and carefully pours the contents of her pail onto the sand, where it immediately disappears.
I close my eyes and listen to the happy family, to the squawking of the gulls, to the whisper of water on sand. My thoughts drift…
My child, says my Heavenly Father, let me show you something about this beach where you are relaxing.
Of course, Lord! I reply.
Take one grain of sand in your hand.
Lord, I can’t. Every time I try to get just one grain, dozens more cling to it. No matter what I try, I just can’t hold on to only one grain of sand.
But I can. Do you see this one tiny grain? I know this piece of sand, and I know the rock that it washed away from, centuries ago. If I brushed it from my fingers, I could find it again, even among these billions and billions of seemingly identical grains.
That’s wonderful, Lord. You’re awesome, just as I’ve always known. But why did You tell me that?
Can’t you see? Don’t you realize that I know you, and everything about you, just like this sand, and that I will always be able to find you? Now, take up a handful of sand.
Yes, my child. How many grains of sand do you have there?
I don’t know, Lord. It’s too many to count…thousands, maybe? Millions? I know where this is going, I think. You’re going to tell me that You can count them. That’s just incredible!
You hold in your hand, child, the exact number of tears that you have shed in your lifetime. I have kept track of them all, and I have wept with you. Now brush them off your hands.
Lord, I’m trying. Some of the sand just won’t brush away.
Here, let me help. I will take your hands in mine, and clean them with the Living Water that I brought with me. Ready for the next lesson?
Oh yes, Lord!
Scoop up as much sand as you can, in both hands.
Here Lord, my hands are overflowing. Are You going to tell me what this represents?
Can you guess?
I think so, Father, but will you tell me, please?
Each grain of sand that you hold there is a blessing that you have received from me. And you will receive many more.
Lord, thank You so much! But I can’t hold them all…if You give me more, where will I put them?
Very good, dearest! You will have to give some of them away, in order to make room for more. Final lesson now…squeeze together the sand you are holding, as hard as you can, then open your hand. What happens?
Nothing, Lord. It’s just a clump of damp sand. Most of it just falls back onto the beach.
Now watch what happens when I do the same thing. See this beautiful jewel? This is what you can become, if you stay in My hand. You’ll have to give me all your blessings and your tears, and you’ll have to trust that I know you, and what’s best for you. It may be uncomfortable at times, when I squeeze. Can you do that? Will you let me make a jewel of you?
Oh, yes Lord…
I open my eyes. The little girl is back at the waterline with her pail, cautiously dipping out another cupful. The breeze ruffles my hair, like a loving touch.
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