Have you ever been to a carnival and seen a “guess how many are in the jar and win a prize” contest? The jar could have anything in it. Maybe pennies, or marbles, or if you’re at a county fair in the Midwest it might be a jar of shelled corn or soybeans. Everyone writes down their name and their guess on a piece of paper and at the end of the day the closest guess wins a prize.
I have a jar of sand from Newport Beach, California. Now, I know what you’re thinking…a person would have to be out of their mind to count sand in a jar.
I started on a Monday. And this is what I did…I went to the kitchen and pulled out the smallest measuring spoon I could find; one eighth of a teaspoon. Sitting at the table I dipped this measuring spoon into the sand, leveled it off with a knife, and tapped it out on to a sheet of grid paper. I turned on a small overhead light, picked up a straight pin and started to count.
Some of the grains were small. Some were very small. And some were so tiny that I’m quite sure an ant could walk over them without noticing. Guess how many grains of sand were in my one eighth of a teaspoon? Approximately 32,500…give or take a thousand. That means that in this jar there are approximately 15,600,000 grains of sand.
Have you ever been to Newport Beach? How many “15 million grain jars” do you think we could fill? In Psalm 139, King David paints a beautiful picture of God’s intimate care for us. In verses 17-18 he makes this most wonderful statement, “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.” Imagine! God’s thoughts toward us are more than all the grains of sand in all the sandboxes and all the beaches and all the deserts of the world. God’s thoughts toward us are countless.
As human beings we know what it’s like to be ignored. We’re familiar with that. We could all go to the mall right now and be ignored by hundreds of people. Yet the Biblical truth that God pays infinite attention to us isn’t so familiar. We simply can’t begin to comprehend anyone thinking that much about us. But just for a moment let’s suppose that when you’re born, along with a slap on your tush and a Social Security number, you’re given a jar of 15 million thoughts from God for your lifetime. I wonder what kind of thoughts are in here?
During the first several years of our life there are a few thoughts in here to protect us from ourselves. You know, a thought or two to keep us from kissing the electrical outlets or pulling the ironing board down on our head. There are thoughts about our growing up and how to get along with our family. Thoughts toward keeping us safe from the playground bully. Thoughts to help us survive puberty, first dates, and algebra. Thoughts about what college He wants us to go to, the direction of our studies, the friendships He wants us to develop and if and when and who we should marry.
There are “God thoughts” in our jar about the gifts and talents He has given us, and how we can best utilize them in ministry within the body of Christ. Thoughts about wisely using the money and resources God will entrust to us. Thoughts about how we can someday best raise our children in the fear and wisdom of God. And lots and lots of thoughts about growing and maturing into the godly person He desires us to be.
While 15 million thoughts will take us a long way, in reality our jar of thoughts from God will never be empty. In His great love for us, God pays eternal attention to the details of our lives. There is nothing that happens in our lives, whether big or small, that He is not concerned with. With God we are never alone and never ignored. His thoughts toward us flow from His heart of goodness and kindness, of mercy and grace, forgiveness and love.
“How precious also are Your thoughts toward me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand…” – Psalm 139:17-18
Todd A. Thompson – May 15, 2005