Once there was a little boy who made a toy sailboat. He carefully carved the hull from a block of wood and painted it blue. Then he fitted it with a mast and sails. When it was finished, he decided to try it on the lake in the city park.
It was a beautiful day. The boy tied a cord to the front of the boat and set it in the water. The wind caught the sail and hurried the boat away. Soon the boat came to the end of the cord. But a puff of wind blew so hard that the cord broke, and the boat sailed away toward the far side of the lake. The boy cried, but the boat was gone.
Several months later, as the little boy was walking through the city streets, he passed a pawnshop. There in the window was his sailboat! It was scratched and dirty, and the sails were torn. But it was definitely his own boat! Someone had found the boat and sold it to the pawnshop owner. Now it had a price tag of $2.00 on it. The boy hurried home and gathered up all his money. He hurried back to the shop, and bought the boat. He took it home, cleaned it, and gave it a fresh coat of paint and a new sail. Then as he looked happily at it, he said, “Little boat, you are twice mine. I made you, and I bought you.” The story is a beautiful illustration of what God did for us.
1. The Labor and Joy of Creation
The little boy spent many happy hours in making his boat. He had carefully carved the hull, sanded it smooth and painted it. He had fitted the mast and sails. He had enjoyed the work, and often showed it to his parents as he worked. The boy was delighted when it was finished. He experienced both the labor and the joy of creation.
Let us think about a greater builder, who is God the Creator. God’s greatest work was man, who was made in His own image. Just as it was a joy for God to create the universe, so it is a pleasure for a boy to build a boat, or a girl to sew a garment, or a man or woman to create something of beauty or usefulness. Creating takes effort. It took a lot of work for the boy to make the boat. But when a boy looks at a finished boat, or a girl looks at a beautifully decorated cake, or when God looked at His finished creation, the toil seemed small when compared with the joy of the finished work.
2. The Risk and the Pain of Loss
There is a risk in attempting anything. There is disappointment and pain when something that has been created is lost. The boy might have kept his boat at home where it would have been safe, but he wanted to see it sail. God could have made man a robot without the power to disobey Him. But He wanted to win man’s love and enjoy freely given fellowship from man. So God gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice: the power to obey and love God, or to reject and disobey Him. Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan rather than God. They became enemies of Him, and slaves of Satan. God knew that this could happen, but he took the risk in order to permit man to freely love Him and bring Him glory.
3. The Joy of Rediscovery
The little boy discovered his boat in the pawnshop. Certainly God knows those among the lost and wandering sinners who are willing to accept Jesus and be brought back. Jesus knew that Zacchaeus would accept Him by faith, or He would never have called him down from the sycamore tree. This is something that our limited minds cannot grasp; we can’t know what will happen in the future. But God does know. David says in Psalm 139:2, “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” So we see that God knows whether our thoughts toward Him are of obedience or rebellion, and God knows what our wills have determined. If we are willing to believe that God knows our thoughts, then we can see that He will give His saving grace to everyone who will receive it. The Bible tells us in many places that God wants everyone to be saved, and we can believe that His joy is great when anyone accepts His offer of salvation.
4. The Repurchase or Buying Back
When the boy discovered his boat in the pawnshop window, he gathered up all his money to buy it back. It reminds us of the story that Jesus told about the merchant who was seeking beautiful pearls. When the merchant found a pearl of great value, he sold all his possessions to buy it. To Jesus, who helped to create the universe, sinners who want to come to Him are the most precious thing in the world. But there is a difference between the boy’s buying back his boat and our redemption. The plan of salvation is often spoken of as “redemption,” which means setting someone free from slavery or captivity by paying a ransom. We were slaves to Satan, but Jesus did not need to buy us back from him, for God still owned us. Paul says in Colossians 1:13, that God has delivered us from the power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son. John says (1 John 3:8), “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” So we see that we are not delivered from Satan’s power by paying a ransom, but by God’s power, which is greater than Satan’s power. Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins. God loved us even when we were sinners. But God’s law demands that all sin must be punished, and when Jesus took our punishment, He brought us back to God.
5. The Refurnishing and Refitting of the Sailboat
The little sailboat was scratched and soiled while it was lost. The boy cleaned and repainted it and made a new sail. Man was marred and spoiled by the fall of Adam and Eve, and we were lost to God. Our natures became sinful, and by our own efforts we could not be pleasing to Him. When Jesus took our punishment, this was like the boy buying back the boat; we then belonged to God again. But we still need to be cleaned up and refinished, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit working side by side with us, for we are workers together with God. If we abide in Jesus and yield our lives to His Spirit’s control, He will delight in cleaning us up and will make us fit to be ornaments in God’s house.
So now we come to the end of our story. The little sailboat stands safely in the boy’s room, giving him pleasure and happy recollections every time he looks at it, yet always ready to serve the boy whenever he wishes. Just so, we serve Jesus Christ here, while we are being prepared to take our place in the Father’s house, where we will be with Him through all eternity.