Are You Building Sand Castles or a Secure Structure?

Sand CastleIn recovery, like construction of a new building, a good-solid foundation is required if any structure or progress is expected to survive and last. When we build, it is important to choose not to build on sand for a foundation. In recovery, we need to ensure our efforts are built with the Solid Rock as our foundation. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62:6 NKJV)

The chaos and loss of control experienced from addictions leads those in recovery to thrive on routine and structure as they seek to get their life back on track. But what is structure?

Structure can be defined as: A building or other object constructed from several parts; or the quality of being organized. While there are a number of synonyms that can be used in place of structure (e.g., construction and organization), one of the listed synonyms is ‘framework’ or support, which brings us back to foundations, of which I want to briefly touch on three: Bones, Belief system, and Organizational structure.

Bones: Are essential as a support system for life (skeleton). However, as we read in Ezekiel 37:1-14, even dead, dry bones can be brought back to life through the restorative power of, and infilling by, the Holy Spirit. Bones can also be equated to the structure and Foundations of the Earth, making this a VERY sound and secure base on which to build. “You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever.” (Psalm 104:5 NKJV)

Belief System: A foundational belief for Christians is that our bodies are to be temples, dwelling places for the Holy Spirit, and we need to treat them as such. ”Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Organizational Structure: While many people equate the term ‘church’ with a building, it is the aspect of ‘The Church’ as an organizational structure that pertains to this discussion. The Church is a gathering of likeminded Believers with the purpose of exhorting and edifying one another in our faith, victories, and struggles. Scripture records that Jesus not only established the church on the foundation of The Rock (Himself) (Matthew 16:17&18), but it instructs us not to forsake gathering as The Church: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

These ‘systems’ require solid Bible-based teaching as a foundation. The Church, and our own lives/faith/recovery, must be built on a solid foundation, one that is based on the full Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. Such a foundation is spelled out in the “Apostles’ Creed” where the concepts are distilled into a short, easily remembered statement:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (Lutheran Service Book)

Without this foundational teaching to build on, the structures of the Church and our personal lives are prone to building on the ‘sand’ offered as security in the world today. However, when the storms of life hit, sand shifts, sinks, and washes away; leading to damage and collapse. A concept specifically called out in Scriptures when Jesus talks in Matthew 7:24-27 about the ‘wise man’ and the ‘foolish man’ who built their houses on rock and sand, respectively.

Society today places so much importance on the ‘security’ of things and minimizes the importance of ensuring the eternal security of our souls, a concept that is epitomized in the song, “American Dream”, by Casting Crowns (Casting Crowns), which speaks to the empty pursuit of ‘things’ rather than concentrating on building a sturdy life on a firm and true foundation: “All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy, but all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul.”   While this song serves as a warning, it also encourages us to reach for the better things when it concludes, “I’ll take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand.”

While sand may not be suitable to support the main foundation of a building, it does have many useful construction applications when it is used as an ingredient: concrete, grout, etc. Sand can be used as a base when laying decorative items, such as step stones and the like, but would not be suitable for the building itself.

While it may not be suitable as a foundational material, there is another use for sand that can be applied to our recovery journeys: Sand (silica) + heat (adversity) = glass. From glass, we can make a mirror by which we can assess those areas in our lives and recovery needing correction/reinforcement, while the glass itself affords the transparency necessary to allow visibility to others from the outside to facilitate proper accountability.

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns‘n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4


About Scott P.

Scott is a retired Military LEO and a Volunteer Chaplain with Serve & Protect ( where he seeks to provide transition services for First Responders and Military personnel by mentoring and connecting them with local 12 Step or similar Faith-Based recovery programs, local Chaplains, and Trauma Therapists to continue their recovery journey following residential care treatment. Scott contributes these devotions to the Serve & Protect ministry Facebook page: Guns'n'Hoses ( Scott has been involved in Faith-Based recovery programs since 2006 and has a Bachelor of Science in Religion through Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Fredericksburg, VA, and can be contacted at
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