Your Life Is Like a Sandcastle | Revive Our Hearts Episode

Ann: Hi, I’m Ann from São Paulo, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. One reason I support this ministry is because I’m so grateful for the impact it has had on my life personally. I want the resources and biblical teaching to be available for women around the world. Enjoy today’s episode of Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

 Dannah Gresh: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Have you ever walked along the seashore and seen some of those sandcastles that some of the kids out there were building? Some of those are just amazing. They spend all kinds of time and develop these incredible, complicated sandcastles. It’s so impressive to look at . . . until you come by the next morning. What happened to that sandcastle? They put all that work into developing that sandcastle, and what …

Ann: Hi, I’m Ann from São Paulo, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. One reason I support this ministry is because I’m so grateful for the impact it has had on my life personally. I want the resources and biblical teaching to be available for women around the world. Enjoy today’s episode of Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

 Dannah Gresh: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Have you ever walked along the seashore and seen some of those sandcastles that some of the kids out there were building? Some of those are just amazing. They spend all kinds of time and develop these incredible, complicated sandcastles. It’s so impressive to look at . . . until you come by the next morning. What happened to that sandcastle? They put all that work into developing that sandcastle, and what happens to it? The tide comes in and washes it away. Sometimes you just see that little pile of sand, wet sand, there on the seashore. It’s all gone in just a matter of hours.

 Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. It’s Monday, March 13, 2023. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Our lives are like the sandcastles Nancy was just describing. We can put so much effort into so many things. But in a brief moment, our lives will come to an end.

Because life is so short, we need wisdom on how to live it well. This month on Revive Our Hearts we want to keep returning to the theme of living in light of eternity. So, we are going to listen to a classic series from Nancy. She first taught this in the early days of Revive Our Hearts. It is every bit as applicable now in 2023.

In this series, Nancy’s helping us dig into Psalm 90 and helping us find the wisdom we need to live in light of eternity. If you’re in a place where you can open your Bible, I hope you’ll turn there. Again, it’s Psalm 90.

Nancy: When we think of the psalms, who is the author that we most often think of as having written many of the psalms? David.

This psalm was not written by David. There are many that were, and there are some that we’re not told who was the author. But this one we are told who is the author. We are told in the title that it was written by Moses, the man of God.

Today we want to look at verses 1 and 2 where we learn something about the character of God. Let me read those two verses and then we’ll expand them. Moses says:

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth,

or ever You formed the earth and the world,

even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

This is a very intimate prayer. Moses was a man who knew God intimately. In fact, the Scripture says that God spoke with him face-to-face as a man speaks with his friend. When you and I go to pray, we are going to a God who knows us intimately, but a God who invites us to come and know Him personally. So we’re going to see a tender and honest exchange in this prayer between Moses and his God.

He says, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” God, You are my dwelling place. You are my refuge. You are my home. You are my stability, my resting place. And not only Your people here and now, Your people wandering in the wilderness, but as we look back over the history of Your people, we can say that You have always been a resting place, a home, a dwelling place for Your people in all generations.

Now think about some of the believers who had preceded Moses. Abraham, a man who had lived in tents traveling to a place that God had not yet made known to him. For a hundred years he lived in tents traveling, following the leadership of God’s Spirit. That’s a long time to be without a permanent home. But Abraham had found that God was his home even when he was living in tents and traveling.

Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob, and Jacob’s son, Joseph had all come to understand that God was their home. God was their dwelling place. That’s where they had found security. Moses found that even though the children of Israel were living in tents in the wilderness. They had a home in God.

You know, as women, we have a nesting instinct. We like to feel that we have a place to put down our roots. We like to feel a sense of settledness. But the fact is, as long as we are here on this earth, nothing’s permanent. We have no permanent dwelling or resting place apart from God.

Moses found that to be true and all the believers since the time of Moses have found from generation to generation that God is a secure dwelling place. There is no other secure or stable dwelling place; we have no permanent home here on this earth.

If you and I were to recognize God as our dwelling place, how would that affect our perspective on our physical surroundings and on our earthly relationships? In fact, all those things we long for are really meant to point us to our ultimate heart’s home. They are to leave us hungry and dissatisfied with what we have down here on earth so that we can find our permanent home in Him.

As Moses says in Deuteronomy chapter 33, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (v. 27). No matter what is going on around us, no matter how unstable or unsettled things may be around us, our heart’s home is in Him.

Now, Moses says that not only is God a dwelling place for us, but He is eternal. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

What is Moses saying? “Oh, God, from eternity past to eternity future and everything in-between, You are the One fixed, unchanging, permanent reality for all of eternity.” How long is eternity?

I remember when I was growing up hearing my dad tell a story that was told by a Dutch historian years ago. He said, “Imagine a rock one hundred miles wide, one hundred miles high, and one hundred miles deep. And imagine that every thousand years a little bird comes to that rock and he sharpens his beak on the rock. When that rock has been worn away by that bird sharpening its beak once every one thousand years, and there’s nothing left but dust on the ground, then eternity will have just begun.”

That’s a long time. In fact, there is no time. That’s eternity. And Moses says, “Before there was time, there was God. And after there was time, there will still be God. He always was. He always will be. He has no beginning. He has no ending. He is God.”

And not only was He God, not only will He be God in the future, but Moses says it in the present tense. You are God. You are here. You are now. You are present. And You will be my God in whatever I face today, whatever I face tomorrow, whatever I face the next day, You will always be present.

You see, the starting place of Moses’ prayer is God. (He’s going in the next verses, and we’ll look at those in the days ahead, he’s going to tackle some tough issues that we have to face as human beings on this planet. But the starting place is God.)

When you face surprises, when you face disappointment, when you face loss, when you face your own sinfulness and you say, “Why am I this way?” and “How do I deal with these issues in my life?” The starting place for dealing with everything that matters to you and me is God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. And You are my heart’s only true home. And before the mountains were brought forth, those mountains that look like they’ve been there forever, but they haven’t been. Before You created the earth and the world, from everlasting past to everlasting future, You are God. So I can trust You. I know that You will do right.

Moses affirms the eternity of God in the first two verses of this psalm, this prayer. But then when we come to verse 3, we see a whole different theme.

In light of the eternity of God, we then see the frailty of man—how short our lives are compared to God’s eternity. Moses says to God in verse 3 of Psalm 90, “[O God,] You turn man to destruction, and say, ‘Return, O children of men!'”

Now that word destruction is the only time that word is used in the Bible, and it’s a word that means “to be pulverized to dust; utterly crushed.” It’s a word that’s like the word dust. Moses is reflecting back on the curse that followed the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, where God said to Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of the ground you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19).

Moses is rehearsing to God the effects of the curse. He’s saying, “You, God, say to man, ‘Return to destruction.’ You turn man to destruction, and you say, ‘Return, O children of men.'” Man came from dust, and he goes back to dust. God lives from everlasting to everlasting, but man lives only a short period of time.

Moses is reflecting here on the reality of death. And yet even in the midst of thinking about death, he’s remembering that God is still in control. Our times are in God’s hands. He says, “You turn man back to dust.” God determines when man has lived as long on this earth as He intends. We are at God’s disposal. We are dependent upon Him for every breath that we take.


Now, over the next few verses Moses uses five word pictures in discussing with God this matter of the frailty of man, the shortness of life. Five word pictures. Let me read the passage, and then we’ll look at these pictures.

Verse 4:

For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood; they are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers (vv. 4–6).

Let’s look at each of those word pictures and just be reminded of how short life is, especially when we see it in the context of how eternal God is.

Verse 4: “For a thousand years in Your sight, [O God], are like yesterday when it is past.” Like yesterday. Now, a thousand years from our vantage point seems like a very long time. I mean, think back to one thousand years ago at the beginning of the second millennium after Christ. Most of us don’t know very much about what was going on a thousand years ago. That’s little-known history to us. That’s a long time ago to us.

But Moses is wanting to look at life from God’s point of view. So he says, “A thousand years in your sight, [O God].” And isn’t that the perspective we need? If we’re going to live life rightly and wisely, we need to see our years and our days and our hours and our moments from God’s point of view: in Your sight. He says it’s just like yesterday in the context of eternity. A thousand years? Just like yesterday.

Think about yesterday. Now, some of us may already have a hard time remembering what we did yesterday, but most of us can remember the details fairly vividly, right now, of yesterday.

But will you remember yesterday a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now? A thousand years from now, do you think anybody will be remembering what you did yesterday? He’s saying the time is so quickly gone. Even a thousand years, which seems like such a huge span of time to us, just evaporates quickly from God’s standpoint.

If a thousand years is as a day with God, let’s put some things in perspective. That means that the world was created about six days ago. That means that Jesus was born about two days ago. That means that the American Revolution took place less than six hours ago. That means that I was born a little less than an hour ago. Some of you a little more maybe. That means that all of us will die within the next hour.

You see how looking at things from God’s point of view makes life look different? He says our lives are just like yesterday.

Then the second word picture. He says, “It’s like a watch in the night.” Now, a watch in the night, as it’s used in Scripture, is a four-hour time frame. I didn’t have a long night’s sleep last night, but it was longer than four hours. That night watch passed while I was sleeping (that four-hour period), and I had no idea what even happened.

It just came and went, and I was oblivious to the fact that a watch, a period of time, a four-hour period of time, had passed. He said life is like that, like a watch in the night that you so quickly pass through it, you don’t even realize what happened.

Verse 5 gives us another word picture. He says, “You carry them away like a flood.” 

We walk on the beach, and we leave footprints. They look so like they’ll be there for a while. But the tide comes in, and the footprints are washed away. Nobody even knows we’ve been there. Come by hours later, there’s nothing left. “Life is like that,” Moses says.

God’s life is eternal. Our life is so very short. He said, “They are like a sleep,” still in verse 5. I think Moses is saying here that so many of us are unconscious of what’s going on around us in the eternal realm, in the things that really matter. We’re dull. We’re unaware of the brevity of life. It’s like we’re just sleeping through it.

We don’t realize that we have a God to whom we will give account one day. Moses is going to pick up on that theme in the verses that follow. We don’t realize our ultimate accountability to God, or if we know it in our heads, we don’t stop to ponder it. We’re sleepwalking, in a way, through life, so many of us.

Then he uses the picture of grass. Verse 5: “In the morning they are like grass which grows up: in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers.”

What’s Moses saying? Life here on earth, your life and mine, is kind of like a pile of grass trimmings—here and then gone. Life here on this earth is really nothing more apart from God than a pile of grass trimmings, just here and gone.

Charles Spurgeon talked about this passage, and he said, “Here is the history of the grass. Sewn, grown, blown, mown, and gone. And the history of man,” he said, “is not much more. Grass is granite compared with flesh. And vapors are rocks compared with life,” he said.

So what’s the conclusion of these word pictures? Life is short, and eternity is long. Jonathan Edwards said, “I am resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” He’s a man who lived in the light of the shortness of life.

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote it this way in a little verse. She said,

This I do, being mad:

Gather baubles about me,

Sit in a circle of toys, and all the time

Death beating the door in. 

Doesn’t that describe us well? We play with our toys, oblivious to the passing of time and ignoring the fact that death is beating in the door. We’re just not thinking about it. Not only is my life short, but the lives of those around us are short. You have friends and family members and neighbors, as do I, who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. Death is beating their door in and most of them are clueless.

Do we stop and think about that? As we look into their eyes, as we converse with them, are we thinking here is an eternal soul with an eternal destiny? But here on earth their life is short and in just a moment or two, in light of eternity, they will be facing the God of the universe.

Your family members’ lives are short. You don’t know how long you will have them.

You know, on the morning of September 1, 1979, I said good-bye to my dad as he put me on an airplane headed for Virginia. I didn’t know that by the time I landed in Virginia, my dad would be in eternity.

He had a heart attack in those intervening hours—instantly in the presence of the Lord. Never again a chance to say to him the things that I’m so glad we had said earlier. Never again a chance to say anything this side of heaven. You may never have another opportunity to say to that mate, to that child, “I love you. I thank God for you. I forgive you. Please forgive me.”

  • Are there things that, if you were living in light of eternity, in light of the brevity of life, you would want to do differently? 
  • Are you living as if you’re going to be here on this earth forever? 
  • Have you put down roots too deep into the soil here?

Let me tell you, it’s all shifting sand. There’s a tide coming in. And those footprints, those sandcastles, they’re not going to be there tomorrow. This earth is just a seashore. It’s a campground. We’re pilgrims just passing through, headed to our true home.

Dannah: If you live your life in light of eternity, every decision starts to look different. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us see that from Psalm 90.

In just a minute, we’ll hear from several evangelical leaders about what they’re looking forward to in eternity.

First, I want to remind you that you’re able to hear teaching like this thanks in part to our Revive Partners, like Judith.

She says, “One reason I support this ministry is the relevance to my everyday life. It has helped me be stabilized in my faith, and grow in the midst of new widowhood. The ministry is so encouraging. I feel like I have friends behind me who are encouraging me and keeping me grounded.”

Thanks, Judith for encouraging us and being a friend to this ministry.

Judith and the rest of the Revive Partner team commit to praying for Revive Our Hearts, that the ministry will be effective. Revive Partners also commit to share the ministry with others. And Revive Partners give monthly to meet the needs of the ministry and keep the program coming to you day after day.

Revive Partners are vital to Revive Our Hearts being able to continue. So we’re praying for 350 new Revive Partners in March. Would you ask the Lord if He’s calling you to join the team?

As a Revive Partner, you’ll get a monthly devotional twelve times a year called Daily Reflections. And you’ll get other resources and special communication from the ministry so you know how to pray and share. For more details, visit

Today Nancy’s been inviting us to fill our minds with an amazing truth. When we’re in Christ, we can be confident that we will live forever with Him!

We want to end today’s program imagining what some of the wonders of eternity could be like.

Our friend Jon Gauger at Moody Radio asked a number of Christian leaders about eternity for a book he wrote called If I Could Do It All Over Again.

He shared some of those recordings with us, and I wanted to play a few of them as we think about what we’re looking forward to in eternity. We’ll hear from Kay Arthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Colin Smith.

Kay Arthur: All I want to do is hear from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” That’s all I want to hear from Him. I want to be pleasing to Him. Paul said, “I have as my ambition, whether in the body or out of the body, to be pleasing to Him.” 

Joni Eareckson Tada: Well, I’ll tell you, most people think—or at least they assume—that I will jump up and dance and kick and do aerobics and be so excited about my new glorified body. Oh, my goodness, how wonderful it will be to have a body with hands that work and feet that walk and knees that bend and a back that arches and hands that can be lifted high!

But I think what I am most looking forward to in heaven is having a new heart! I cannot wait to feel—I mean really feel—what it’s like to not have a sinful thought, a rebellious inclination, a tendency to pity myself or growl or grumble or complain. I can’t wait to see what it feels like to have a heart free of sin. That will be heaven for me.

Colin Smith: To see Christ, for sure. That’s gotta be the first answer there. The glory of Christ, fully seen, fully perceived . . . “Now we see in part.” That’s gotta be the answer to that question.

If you start talking about the new heaven and the new earth, and the glories of the new creation, there’s all kinds of stuff that is going to be a joy. But it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be, because we can’t fully discover that.

But to see Christ and to full see His glory has got to be the answer to your question.

Dannah: We’ll hear more quotes like that tomorrow. And Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will continue teaching us about the brevity of life from Psalm 90. Please be for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV.


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