My wife and I were hunting for shells on a beach recently. We were able to find quite a few nice ones—except for sand dollars. We only found pieces of those. They were too fragile to last long in the pounding surf. We had given up on finding one intact. Later, as we climbed the rocks on the shore, I spied a circle of white in a small patch of sand. Could it be? It was. A perfect sand dollar, bleached white by the sun, just waiting to be taken. I picked it up and showed it to my wife. She was a little skeptical: “With all these people around, no one else saw it?” I shrugged my shoulders and carefully placed my prize in a separate pocket. I was proud of my keen eyesight and hunting ability. After all, none of the many others there that day had been able to spot what had been so obvious to me!
My pride was reduced to head shaking and laughter a little later when I removed the sand dollar from my pocket, this time turning it over. On the underside was written, “God is faithful to those who are faithful to him.” Someone had planted it in the sand for me (or someone else) to find.
My first thought was, “Hey, that’s a pretty good idea!” My second thought was, “They had one opportunity to share a message with someone and that is what they wrote?” Now, I’m quite sure the person who planted the sand dollar had very good intentions. But, as my wife continued to hunt for shells, my mind started to wander a little bit…
…What if the man who had picked up the sand dollar had stopped going to church years ago? He would think, “I haven’t been faithful to God. There’s no hope for me.” What if the woman who picked it up was caught up in a sin, feeling guilty because she knew her behavior was wrong? She would think, “I haven’t been faithful to God. There’s no hope for me…”
I said a silent prayer of thanks for all those mean (or so I thought at the time) Sunday School teachers and pastors who had made me memorize Bible passages, because 2 Timothy 2:13 popped into my mind: If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. Thank God that His faithfulness does not depend on my faithfulness! If God’s faithfulness depends on me or anyone else, we are all without hope!
It is true that God expects us to follow His commands. In fact, He demands it. Jesus says, You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) Who is able to follow that command? None of us can claim perfection! Every one of us is sinful from the moment we are conceived. So, our hope cannot be based on what we do—our own faithfulness to God. Our only hope is in our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was faithful to His Father in every way. Through the faithfulness of Jesus—His perfect life and innocent death—we are saved. When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. (Romans 5:10)
Leaving messages of hope for others to find is a good idea, but only if that hope rests in Christ alone. Promoting faith is a good idea, but only if that faith is in Christ, our Savior.-Rev. Paul Fries