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Sand Box Perceptions

Updated: Mar 3

The Alpena News


MAY 14, 2022


Everyday Faith

With spring in full swing and better weather on the way, my mind wanders off to thinking about what this summer will hold, while, at the same time, thinking back to previous summers, as well.

I remember as a kid that, at the beginning of every summer, my dad would have my brothers and me join him for a project. He would hook our trailer up to the tractor, and we would all load up in the trailer while he took us to the back of the farm to our “sand hill.”

I wasn’t always anxious to help dad with our “projects,” but I was always eager to help him with that one. The purpose of that project was to load the trailer up with sand and then haul it back to our house and dump it in the sandbox. Since “many hands make light work,” all of us boys were enlisted to help.

When the project was complete, I remember playing for hours in that sand box with army men, farm animals, small tractors, and dump trucks. My “world” was in the battles that were fought in that sand box, as well as the castles that were made. Although the reality was that it was just a small sandbox, I could totally get sucked into thinking that my adventures there were taking place in a big world.

Another summer memory is of our family packing up the car from downstate to head Up North to Oscoda to stay at a resort on Lake Huron, just south of the mouth of the Au Sable River.

There were two rows of cabins, with a drive running through the middle of them. The owners lived in a house closest to the lake on the right side, and that’s where we would check in.

We stayed at that resort several times, and that glorious resort always held a week’s worth of adventures. They had a game room right next to the beach, with a pool table and pinball machines that just loved to eat quarters. Right on the beach was a huge campfire pit for all of the resort vacationers to collectively gather and share stories at night. Of course, the sandy beach provided ample opportunities to play, and then we would go for long walks down the beach until we got to the pier of the Au Sable.

And, if that weren’t enough, there was a tennis court at the front of the resort to provide some healthy competition.

As a kid, that resort was huge and just had so many fun opportunities that I didn’t have accessible to me back home.

Today, as we travel up and down the state, we pass by that resort on U.S.-23 and the thing that strikes me every time is how small the resort looks to me now. What I recognize is that perception changes.

As a child, I thought both the sandbox and the resort were huge at the time, and, through my eyes, they were.

But perception as an adult changes, too, and not just in the physical realm, but the spiritual, as well.

Can I ask you a question today? How big do you believe God is?

As a Christian, that is actually a core question that we really need to think through, because there are strong implications for how you answer that question!

Do you believe that God can heal people physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Do you believe that God answers prayer? When we pray to God, does God have the right to say “no” to your prayers? Does God have permission to direct your daily path, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense? Can the God who was so big and created the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, and the oceans really have time to answer my trivial prayer requests?

Those are big questions, but what I’d like to encourage you with is not to put your limitations on God’s abilities.

We are all fragile people who are trying to make our way through this world the best we can.

But God does desire the absolute best for us, and, by faith, we need to recognize his abilities — not ours.

Faith goes beyond what I can do, and it requires trust.

Pastor Scott Joy uses a term that I believe captures this thought well — SMIG: God is “small” enough to be concerned with each of our requests and desires, but he is also “big” enough to see how to carry through the story of all humanity — SMIG!

Can I give you a litmus test to help determine how big you believe God is?

When you are having a spiritual conversation with someone, and, all of a sudden, the word “but” appears in reference to God, that’s the red flag word!

But what?

Whatever follows is our justification as to why God isn’t able to do whatever it is we are talking about. There’s our limitation.

There’s our perception problem.

I would encourage you today to really think through what limitations we have placed on God. Why does it matter? Because God has big plans for us, but it requires a big God to fulfill that.

Let’s not live small in our faith!

Ephesians 3:20: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think …”

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