From Pastor Ron Nelson’s Biography
One of my favourite stories speaks of a good Dad who once presented his three year old son with a sandbox that he had personally made. It was a good size with lots of sand and a big rock placed in its centre. The boy was so happy and so was the Dad as he only intended the sandbox to be a place where his son could have fun. The good Dad sat down and played with his son and together they built sand roads on the rock and played with the toys and trucks. It was a great time for both of them.
About six weeks later the Dad came around the side of the house to see his little boy striving to pick up and move the rock out of the sandbox. It was too much for the little guy and sitting down he began to cry. Looking up, he noticed his Dad. At this, the father said ”Son, I only intended this to be a good time for you. What has happened?” The little boy said “I want the rock out of the sand box.” The dad said ”Okay. It is possible for you to take it out.” And at this, the little boy stood and tried with all of his might take the rock out, but couldn’t. Then the good Dad, walked over, picked up his crying son and the rock and placed the rock outside of the sandbox. Then with compassion, he said “Son, you can take the rock out of your sandbox, but never in your own strength.”
In so many ways, this story has helped me to understand God’s love and desire for my best in this life. It is in His strength that we can face life and deal with the rocks in our sandboxes. Truly, we are “saved by grace, it is the gift of God, not of works.” Ephesians 2:8,9. To help us understand the biblical concept of “Grace”, I would like to share a few personal stories.
When I was young, growing up in Ryder Lake, one of my classmates invited me to come to his house for a Sunday afternoon of fun. So, I rode my bike to his home which was close to the base of Elk Mountain, not far from the original homestead were my father had grown up. Robbie was more of an “outdoors” kind of guy than I was and he always thought of interesting and crazy, but fun things to do.
On that particular day, he wanted for us to go rafting on the pond and had taken three fence posts and had tied them together to make a raft. We made a second raft and then went to a poplar grove and cut ourselves poles to use to direct our paths and to help us find our balance.
Thankfully, it was the summer and the water was quite inviting because I had trouble to begin with, to find my balance and to stay on the raft. It seemed easy for him, but I was spending most of my time in the water and then trying to get back onto the raft. I have never forgotten Robbie’s example and counsel.
As he stood on the bank of the pond, he took a firm hold of the pole, told me to look at the distant shore, step towards the destination and to plant first one foot, then the second on to the raft. Then using the pole to steady himself, he did so, pushed off and guided the raft to the distant shore. For me, it was ever so important to never lose sight of the destination because I tended to lose my balance if I looked to closely to or directly at the raft. Within a few tries, as I followed his example, I was up and able to navigate the raft. It was a wonderful afternoon that helped me understand a few things about the Christian walk of faith.
We are also on a journey. The Lord wants to partner with us and has created an opportunity for us to experience His friendship along the way, but He does ask us to follow His example and counsel. While His will is primarily revealed to us in the Bible, He wants us to develop a personal relationship with Himself as we navigate life challenges in His strength. Heaven is our destination and all the joy that we anticipate in eternity can be ours in this life, if we follow the Lord’s example and will.
Robbie, through his call to a deeper friendship would represent Jesus in the plan of salvation. The poplar pole would represent the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who desires to give us strength and the ability to fulfill God’s will. While, God the Father has provided the entire experience, in giving us life, we are only able to participate in fellowship with Him, as we choose to follow Christ’s example and step, by faith, on to the raft of His Grace.
The only way provided to take us to the heavenly shore is God’s provision in Jesus and His example which leads us to embrace God’s grace. The “raft” of His grace makes it all possible.