I was sitting outside recently looking at the landscape of our small yard and I noticed a slight depression near the edge bordering the alleyway. My mind drifted back 4 years ago, when in that very spot, there used to be a sandbox, and I recalled how the story of the sandbox unfolded.
I had built our youngest son a sandbox, so he could enjoy the fun of building and dozing in the dirt; something every little boy loves to do. During the summer months, he and neighborhood friends, day after day would occupy the sandbox.
As the years went by and our son grew older, the sandbox received less and less attention and began to fill up with weeds, and the fancy digging toys, now rusted tight, had lost their luster.
That year our youngest son Luke, spent most of his time riding bikes with friends, playing basketball down the street, and really did not spend too much time in the sandbox. I considered pulling out the sandbox, filling it in with topsoil, and planting grass.
As I contemplated the fate of the forgotten sandbox, memories of my own childhood flashed across my mind. I could remember hours playing in the dirt, the fun I had with the neighborhood children.
I remember walking into our house, gathering scornful looks from my mother, as I left a trail of dirt on my way to the kitchen sink to clean up.
What was to become of the old sandbox.
I asked my son one day what he thought about the idea of filling in the sandbox, and he seemed a little indifferent about it; as if it was not terribly important to him either.
Over the next few weeks, I gathered up some of the older toys, sending them off to the trash heap, never to be used again. I must admit I had twinges of guilt as I did it.
School let out for summer vacation, and one day I noticed my son, and a couple of his friends, ages 10 to 14, digging in the sandbox … and I mean digging! Over the course of the next 3 weeks, we had as many as 10 neighborhood boys, coming to dig in the sandbox; they were coming with shovels!
The sandbox measured about 12’ x 10’ and they had dug a hole in the sandbox that was about 5’ in diameter and about 4’ deep.
Soon, the neighborhood moms and dads were coming to our yard to gaze at the sight; at least a half-dozen boys or more, with shovels digging away, no set purpose, just digging.
Well, I was astonished and amazed. I asked the kids what they planned to do with this incredible “hole.” It did not seem right to fill it in, but what could they do with it. They thought of all kinds of things from a swimming pool to a well.
After several weeks of intense cogitating about what to do with the hole; to my amazement when I came home from the office one day, I saw that the kids had filled in the hole, and was starting another project in the sandbox.
This time they created incredible miniature cities, with lakes, roads, parks, stores; their imaginations were running wild. Kids were coming to the sandbox with dozens and dozens of matchbox cars, boats, and all kinds of “things.”
Night after night, the kids were filling our yard, and as daylight turned to darkness, they began planning the newest addition to continue the next morning. Amazing!
Important lessons about life were being learned in the sandbox.
The kids were learning incredible lessons at the sandbox, lessons like; cooperation, sharing, vision casting, honing leadership skills, teamwork, and so much more!
After watching this incredible display of innovation and leadership coming from kids, 10 to 14 years old, I wondered; what would happen if the church could catch this determination.
You see, the kids had one objective; “dig dirt.” What it looks like, how it happens, is not important; what is important, is dirt digging!
As long as “digging dirt” is the main objective, then everyone is happy. The minute one of the boys sees his corner of the sandbox becoming more important than someone else’s corner, the whole project gets bogged down; dirt digging comes to a sudden stop.
Only when there is a resolution to the favoritism, or if the pet project is relinquished, can the real work of “digging dirt” begin again.
I wonder if the church could learn these lessons too.
How many times do we forget that our primary focus in the church is to reach lost people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? As long as we stay focused on “Knowing God, and Making Him Known” then we can get much done.
We tend to bog down when we think that our particular ministry, or service project, is the best, or the most important. Our feelings get hurt when someone else’s idea eclipses our own; we take offense and go sit down in the corner, and the work slows down, joy ceases, and very little “dirt digging” takes place!
Sometimes we simply need to come to our senses and fill in the hole and start over! Then digging dirt becomes the primary focus again.
Works for the kids; maybe it will work for the church too. I for one want to spend more time digging dirt than slinging it.
Jesus said that we should be about the Father’s business, and what is that? It is reaching God’s cherished missing with the Good News that Jesus is Lord!
Grab a shovel and let’s get digging!