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Hidden Treasures in the Sand Hidden Treasures in the Sand
    by Kara J. Stokes

    The waves crashed thunderously on the shimmering white sand as Sandra Grace walked along looking for sand dollars. She savored the smells and sounds and textures of the shore, especially the wet sand between her toes. The seagulls’ laughing calls brought out her quick smile. Her attention turned from their sounds to the morning blue sky. She delighted in watching the gulls dive quickly, and then soar high above the water, hunting for a morsel of breakfast. In just a few hours, she knew these shores would be teeming with people and the gulls’ lunch would be free. For now, however, she had the vast expanse of the ocean to herself, and she determined to find at least one precious sand dollar.

    She had loved sand dollars even as a child. She rejoiced each time she spotted the edge of a milky-white disk peeking out of the sand. Each one she kept had a special place on a shelf with its own story about how she came to possess it. She continued to collect them even though she was older. The only difference was that now she would occasionally relinquish one of her precious sand dollars to the imploring eyes of a son or daughter. Today’s find, however, was neither for herself nor for one of her children.

    Sandra wanted to find a sand dollar to honor the one who had taught her to love them; the one who had shared hours with her as they hunted for the little treasures. Her Aunt Sandy was having a birthday, and Sandra Grace could think of no more fitting gift than a sand dollar. “Aunt Sandy” was her mother’s dearest and oldest friend. Sandra Grace, along with her sister Hanna Joy, were both named for Sandy. Sandra for her first name, and Joy for the rich emotion that she had brought to their family. Their brother, John Chambers, was named for Sandy’s husband John Mark. Their families had vacationed together at the coast for as long as she could remember, but this summer was special; it was Aunt Sandy’s 75th birthday.

    Sandy had always loved these three children, but she and Sandra Grace had a special bond. They had shared an uncommon kinship from the time Sandra Grace was a little girl. They treasured the hours spent on the beach looking for sand dollars. When asked to describe Aunt Sandy, the best description Sandra Grace could muster was, “beautiful.” And she was. She had dark brown hair with flecks of white that shone in the sun. Her deep green eyes danced with delight in those around her. While she was truly beautiful outside, it was Sandy’s inner-beauty that drew people to her. Aunt Sandy had adorned the walls of her heart with red rubies of love, white diamonds of purity, blue tanzanites of faithfulness, green emeralds of a daily-fresh spirit, and purple amethysts of loyalty. The Spirit of God radiated all these colors through her green eyes and her contagious smile.

    As a tiny girl, Sandra Grace wanted to be just like her Aunt Sandy. Years later she still carried that same longing. Sandra Grace kept walking along looking for her sand dollar, thanking the Lord for the blessings in her life. As she continued to search she recalled her favorite sand dollar story. To look at her favorite sand dollar, most would not see beauty, for it was chipped in places and had a portion rubbed off by the sand and water, and it wasn’t the purest of white. That was what made it beautiful to her.

    One day when she was seven or eight, she and Aunt Sandy took one of their usual morning walks looking for sand dollars. Aunt Sandy loved to tell stories of her children, April and Evan, and her husband Mark. All of them had spent time in the Lord’s service in Africa, and her stories were captivating. So they walked and talked, but it seemed their search for a sand dollar was in vain. The blue sea, it appeared, was just not going to give any little treasures up today. They had walked a good two or three miles when suddenly they saw it. This sand dollar was at least five inches in diameter and perfectly round, and lily white. It was the most beautiful sand dollar either of them had ever seen. As she bent over to pick it up, Sandra Grace spotted a dingy, kind of cracked sand dollar not to far away. She carefully, gingerly picked up the beautiful one and carried it as if it were priceless. She grabbed up the other one, not really caring what happened to it because it would find a spot on the back of her shelf. She already had mentally placed the “good” sand dollar on the front of her shelf.

    Both she and Aunt Sandy squealed with joy as they began their long walk home, careful not to break their special prize. They were almost halfway home when they crossed paths with a distraught elderly gentleman. Aunt Sandy, who was a nurse, inquired of this man what could be wrong. As they stood there, the man, whose name was Mr. Gray, poured out his heart to Aunt Sandy. He was in his mid-eighties. He was stricken with chronic arthritis, and unable to go long distances at a time. He had been battling diabetes for some time and suffered from frequent headaches. Worse, his wife of more than sixty years was in the late stages of cancer. He had brought her here at her request so she could see the ocean before she went to be with the Lord.

    Aunt Sandy had always had a special gift for relating to elderly people. This gentleman in particular, reminded her of another Mr. Gray she had loved years before, and he quickly found a place in her heart. Sandra Grace marveled at the way the two adults seemed to already know each other. Mr. Gray told them all about his wife and how he cherished her, and how he desperately wanted to give her what she wanted most this morning: a sand dollar. He had looked and looked, just as they had, but had not been able to find one. His arthritis was flaring up. He was no longer able to keep looking, so he was headed in empty-handed.

    Sandra Grace caressed her perfect sand dollar. She hoped that Aunt Sandy would also want to keep that one and give Mr. Gray the less than perfect one. But Aunt Sandy got the lovely sand dollar and gave it to him to give to his beloved wife.

    Mr. and Mrs. Gray had always loved the little poem of the legend of the sand dollar, and she wanted a reminder of Jesus’ love for her as she lay in bed and tried to keep comfortable. He explained this as he expressed his gratitude over and over to both the woman and the little girl. He told them God had put them in his path at just the right time, and that his spirits had been lifted by their generosity and their concern. He hugged each one tightly, and kissed Sandra Grace on the cheek, then turned to go back to the little beach house he had rented for himself and his wife.

    As they walked away, Sandra Grace could not hide her childish disappointment for having to keep the “ugly” sand dollar. Aunt Sandy stopped her, and they sat down for a minute to talk about what had just happened.

“God has given us his best, and we need to give our best to others.”
    “Sweetheart”, Aunt Sandy consoled, “God has given us his best, and we need to give our best to others. Just think, Mr. Gray is going to lose his wife soon, and he will have that perfect sand dollar to remind him of how perfect and pure she will be in heaven. We all will be.

    We get to keep the sand dollar that has been tossed around a little bit, and has some cracks in it, and isn’t quite right. I love that one because it is like me. While I live here on earth, I won’t ever be quite right. Jesus took care of that, so someday when I get to see Him, I will be like that spotless sand dollar. Like I love the cracked one in spite of its cracks, Jesus loves me in spite of mine. And He loves you, too. I know this is probably hard for you to understand right now, but as you grow older and look at that sand dollar, you will see what I mean.”

    Sandra Grace nodded her head, and kissed her aunt on the cheek. Although she did not completely understand, she knew that she was loved. She even thought that someday she might understand why anyone would love something, or someone, in spite of imperfections.

    Sure enough, Sandra Grace grew to love that imperfect sand dollar more than any of her other treasures. It was not in spite of its cracks, but because of them. She loved it because her Aunt Sandy had used it to teach her about God’s love. Now as a grown woman, with children of her own, it was her turn to find just the right sand dollar for Aunt Sandy.

    She walked a long way before a sliver-glint of white caught her eye. She walked over and began to uncover the hidden treasure. As she brushed away the sand, a satisfaction welled up from deep inside. This sand dollar was almost identical to the “perfect one” they had given to Mr. Gray so many years ago. It was lily white and perfectly round, with no visible flaws. Sandra Grace knew Aunt Sandy still had flaws in her life. She also understood that God’s grace had grown and refined her through the years, so that she looked more like Jesus now than she ever had.

    Someday, Sandra Grace knew, she would have that perfect sand dollar on her shelf. It would sit right next to the cracked one. Together they would remind her of the woman who had shown her what God’s grace looked like and a symbol of her love for the woman who had helped her to live that grace in front of others.

    As time passed, when people told her how much she reminded them of Aunt Sandy, she would tell them the story of the sand dollar. Then she would thank them with a feeling of deep joy that Jesus had revealed Himself to others through her, cracks and all, just like he had revealed himself to her through her beloved Aunt Sandy.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9


The Legend of the Sand Dollar

Here’s a lovely story
that so many men will tell,
of the life and death of Jesus
etched upon this lonely little shell.

You will find an image here
of four nails and then another
from a Roman’s sharpened spear.

One side shows the Easter lily
with its center as a star,
that shined brightly for the shepherds,
as they traveled from afar.

And the yuletide poinsettia
painted on the other side
tells us Christ was born on Christmas,
and wore our cross until He died.

You will find the sign of peace,
five white doves in gleaming beauty,
will its wonders never cease!

So you see the simple story,
Jesus lived for you and me.
To carry on His work on earth,
to love humanity.


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Title: "Hidden Treasures in the Sand"
Author: Kara J. Stokes
Publication Date: February 8, 2001

 

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Article © 2000, Kara J. Stokes.
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