It All Started In A Sandbox . . .


Last summer my husband’s parents visited us on the ranch they had deeded to Dave, where we decided to retire. Since it is high desert and very close to a large recreational sand dune, we have more sand than we ever wanted. We’ve even made up a joke to give our visitors a guide to the ranch which involves a discussion about sand and the Sand Rancher as Dave has dubbed himself. I am officially the Royal Sand Princess because – I have a t-shirt that says so.

When we were sitting under the gazebo one day during their visit, Dad started sharing some memories he had about when Dave was little. Dad said he had made Dave a sandbox when they lived in San Diego. Dave was very young, but apparently, he loved playing with his toys in that sandbox. He would set up plastic army men and vehicles and play with them to his heart’s content.

While Dad shared the memory, I began to think about how that simple sandbox affected him. We met when I was 15 and he was 16. It was during the Vietnam War and when he was nearing graduation, he knew he had to make a decision about whether to enlist or get drafted. Being an intelligent young man, he thought it would be better to choose his own fate rather than leave it to someone else.

He signed up for the Navy and went to have all the necessary aptitude tests. He passed everything with enough qualifications that they offered him a Nuke program. That would mean he’d be on submarines. Since Dave’s early days in the sandbox, he much preferred solid ground and despite their pressure to “be all that he could be,” he wanted to drive heavy equipment instead.

Basically, he was determined to continue playing in the sand, not to mention being involved in all things military. His Dad had been in the Navy during the Korean War and his maternal grandfather had actually been in the Seabees. That’s Navy jargon for Construction Battalions. Get it – CB’s… Anyway, by becoming a Seabee, that actually meant he could continue playing in the dirt, get paid for it, and satisfy his military requirements at the same time.

He built roads, golf courses, airport runways, created pads for buildings and many other projects during his service. He could run any piece of heavy equipment and he was able to become an Operating Engineer when he got out of the Navy. When the construction slump took a dive in the ’80s, he moved into auto parts as a profession and did very well becoming a store manager of the highest grossing store in the company chain. However, working inside was not a happy circumstance for Dave, so he joined the Army National Guard and began playing in the sand again – this time in a tank! He loved it.

I’m thankful that he was not ever deployed overseas again because that’s when the Gulf War was going on. He continued as an active reservist for seven years until his Headquarters Company stopped playing with tanks and sat around all duty weekend doing not much of anything. He really needed to get back out in the dirt!

Another job he got helped considerably. He became an estimator and designer for irrigation systems and got to be outside for at least half of his working hours – again – dealing with dirt and sand. He has said many times that he enjoyed that much more than most of his other jobs. I guess you can take the boy out of the sandbox, but you can’t take the sandbox out of the boy.

Now, you may be wondering where I’m going with this reminiscence of part of Dave’s work history, but, I promise it will make sense soon. You see because Dave’s parents deeded the ranch property to him, they basically gave him a five-acre sandbox! It’s a lot of work, but Dave is digging, grading (albeit by hand) and moving our sand around every day trying to get the infrastructure in place for our homestead. The work is never-ending. But God prepared Dave for this a long, long time ago and through many life experiences. And, it all started in a sandbox.

I’m sure you’ve had one of those AHA moments in your life when you realized that all your talents, work history and various experiences all came together to uniquely prepare you for a specific job or vocation. It usually happens a little later in life when we begin to see the forest for the trees. It occurred to me as I was replaying Dave’s sand experiences, that God had used that simple childhood sandbox to shape Dave’s life in so many ways.

Like Dave’s Dad building him a sandbox, our Heavenly Father carefully and artfully places things in us which He knows will shape us into the unique person He wants us to be for His kingdom. He has placed something in each one of us that may span our whole lifetime and prepares us for greatness. Maybe digging sand doesn’t seem like greatness, but you have to understand that we have launched out on the adventure of our lifetimes and the sand is a crucial part, whether we like it or not.

I believe the Lord wants us to begin asking Him what our sandbox is. What has God done in and through you, even small things, that has made you so unique that no one else could do what He wants you to do – but you? It might be something very simple or seemingly insignificant, but I really think God doesn’t waste anything. He can take a tiny seed and make it into a huge tree. If He can do that, then I trust Him to have planted something in you that makes you like no other person on earth.

I pray that you will take time today to evaluate what makes you unique and see if He will show you what His plan is for growing that seed. Every person on this earth has the potential for greatness when coupled with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you do, I hope you won’t discount yourself, but do a little digging (pun intended) to see what lays within you that God wants to bring to fruition. He can make a mountain out of a molehill, even if it all started in a sandbox.

Deuteronomy 33:19
“They will call peoples to the mountain; There they will offer righteous sacrifices; For they will draw out the abundance of the seas, And the hidden treasures of the sand.”

Psalm 139:13-18
“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.”

Always in Jesus,

Desirée Figg

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