Sunday, March 05, 2006



I move about 1,000 pounds of sand when making a sculpture. Add to that about 500 pounds of water and you get quite a load. Fortunately, I don't have to do it all at once; I spread the work out over roughly two hours.

Pick up a one-pound brick and put it on a shelf five feet above the ground. You have just done 5 foot-pounds of work. This is true no matter how fast you do it. The work is done against the mutual attraction of Earth and brick; they want physical intimacy and resist the separation, which is what you feel in your muscles.

How fast you do the job is called power. Do it quickly, you sweat more. Do it slowly and you can relax. Each of us has a natural pace, and the key to efficient physical work is finding the pace that works best for you. That two-hour pace for the work of making a well-packed pile of sand suits me. Some do it much faster. Some do it more slowly.

So, you become a Christian. Perhaps you watched a friend's life change and wanted to get in on it. Perhaps you saw a sunset and Jesus' statement about "No one comes to the Father but by me" came to mind, and you wanted to meet the Creator of Sunsets. You stoop down and go through the narrow gate under the Cross, and there before your eyes is a shining land where all things are made new. You start walking.

Then you see the size of the hills ahead. Others come along beside you with offers of help but most of it is in the form of "Go faster."

I can understand the attitude. There are fired-up people who want to change the world overnight, and they expect everyone else, now they're saved, to see that their particular bandwagon is the best one. Get on and get going! Faster!

I don't buy this idea any more. God knows the pace. Everyone's afraid of backsliding and they want to prevent it, memories of "Pilgrim's Progress" coming to mind and all those other 19th-century tracts. There are times and places.

No one can scale God's mountain in a burst of enthusiasm and self-flagellation. Sometimes the route to the top leads you downward. Is it backsliding, or progress? Who's counting? My own story includes a period that would certainly have looked like backsliding, but I'm no longer so sure. Maybe I'm just hard-headed and need lots of convincing. Well, really, there's no doubt on that one. God still uses events that occurred in those years to teach me new things.

God has a pace that's suited to human beings. If I listen to him I don't get so badly freaked out over how impossible the whole thing is.

I've had people call me to line up sand sculpture jobs. When they find out that a sculpture takes 8 hours they say they'll call me back. It's as if they're insulted because I can't just produce a sand sculpture out of my hat, poof. No, folks, anything worth doing takes time and learning. One brick at a time.

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