Last Saturday there was an article in the Filey Mercury announcing that a massive sand sculpture was to be created on the beach on Sunday morning by 15 sand artists. Many people, myself included, turned up at the beach only to discover that those concerned with setting this up had failed to take account of the tides! They would have been lucky to manage a 9 metre design, let alone the 900 metre one we had been promised!
Nevertheless, the idea had taken root in my imagination, and I started wondering what would drive so many people to spend their Sunday morning putting such effort, skill and talent into creating something when they would have known absolutely that their creation would be washed away by the tide in a matter of hours.
If we consider God's creation, every single person ever created is unique and different. Never has the identical set of genes, nurture and experience that each one of us represents ever been put together in the same way before, nor will it ever be again. Even "identical" twins experience different things right from the time when they are in different positions in the womb, through being born at different times, to almost all the experiences of their lives, so even they are unique.
How many millions of people are alive now? How many more miliions have lived out their lives already? And how many more (we assume) are still to be born, live and die?
Isaiah 48:19 (New International Version)
Your descendants would have been like the sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be cut off
nor destroyed from before me."
We people are indeed like grains of sand on the beach! Yet each one of us is an individual being, special to God.
In God's time, we are told, 1000 years is like the twinkling of an eye. Our lives are but an instant in time. And yet God has bothered to make each of us different and uniqely special. God loves each one of us as much and more than any human parent loves their children: deeply, uniquely, generously. And he also loves what his people can create together. There is beauty in each life and there is beauty in how each life combines with others to make something special.
The sand sculpture would have lasted a matter of hours, yet it would have been a thing of beauty where every grain of sand had its own place in the creation.
Our lives - even centenarian lives - are but a moment in time, but each contributes what noone else can contribute to the beauty of creation. And, although whatever we may create in this life might only last for a moment in time, even so it is special to our Lord and Creator. God loves each of us, and he loves what we contribute to his world. And, unlike the sand sculpture, when the sea of death washes over us, we are transformed into a new creation as we continue our lives in God's presence.
Psalm 139:14 (New International Version)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Praise the Lord for his creativity, and for his belief in us mere mortals!