As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:47-48
Residents near Midland, MI learned a hard, tragic lesson earlier this month. Thousands of people helplessly watched flood waters rise, flooding their homes and their town, after a dam upstream failed, releasing millions of gallons of water. There was not stopping it. There was no avoiding it. There was no diverting it. The power of the water demanded to be respected. Even entire homes were washed away.
Right or wrong, for better or for worse, the town of Midland was largely built in valley near the banks of the Tittabawassee River. After the dam was built, I’m guessing everyone felt pretty safe building homes and businesses. I doubt many of them thought about what would happen if the dam broke. After all, what really are the chances of that happening? Like 1 in a million?
Life has had a lot of those 1 in a million, I can’t imagine that ever happening in my lifetime experiences lately, hasn’t it? I never imagined a virus would shut down schools and shopping malls. I never imagined I would need to be wearing a mask in public places in the Midwest. I never imagined something would cause not only my camp but hundreds of camps around the world to cancel their summer programs for youth and families. I never imagined churches not gathering for weeks on end.
The story of the wise and foolish builders who build their houses on rock and sand respectively is a well-known one to most Christians. In fact, I’m guessing a lot of you over the age of 30 can hardly resist singing a certain little Sunday school ditty to yourselves.
This story is also what inspired one of the top contemporary praise and worship songs on the charts right now, “Build My Life” by Pat Barrett. In an interview Pat gives about the song, he explains that this particular song invites people to look down and consider what they are standing on. Are they standing on the truth of God, or on the empty promises of this world? “Life rarely behaves with our plans and it is usually in the uncertainty and the not knowing and the trials that reveals what we’ve been standing on and what we have put our trust in.”
This speaks to an even deeper truth. The truth that we do have the choice of what to build our life on. God doesn’t force us to choose him or his ways. Despite the pain and sorrow He feels each time one of his children turns their back on him, despite the power available to him to force each person to bend to his will and avoid that pain and sorrow, God still allows us to choose. That is simply amazing to me. I think of all the people who have hurt me and how much I have wished at times to have the power to prevent that hurt. I know I would have used it again and again to protect myself and my heart. And yet, God would rather hurt and have us choose to love him than force us to act lovingly towards him.
This season of social distancing, of staying home, of canceled plans has given many of us time we normally wouldn’t have to really meditate and examine what we have built our lives upon. Have we built our lives on Jesus? Do we really trust God to take care of us? Or have we built our lives around activities and work? Have we placed our trust in the stock market or our paychecks?
Ultimately the foundation Jesus is talking about in the book of Luke is obedience to God’s truth found in scripture. The Jewish leaders at the time had taken the truth of God and twisted it to fit their personal agendas of power and control. Despite this, the truth did remain buried there and Jesus constantly revealed the truth, bringing to light what was of God and what was created by man in the Jewish faith. What was the truth they buried?
Saving faith results in a life of progressive godliness. Saving faith inevitably results in a life which demonstrates God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and hope to those who witness it. Why? Because a saving faith is one which submits to the will of God and the will of God doesn’t include sin.
We are living in a stormy time right now. The rains have been pouring for a while now and the flood waters are getting rather high for most people. Perhaps you are asking yourself how you can be sure you have built your life on the firm foundation which will hold in the midst of this storm. I’d like to offer the following three guidelines for you to consider:
Come to Jesus. Do you know Jesus? Really know him? Does Jesus know you? How personal is your relationship with Jesus? Do you rely on Sunday services to spend time with Jesus or do you spend time with him on your own as well?
Hear Jesus’ Words. Are you growing in your knowledge and understanding of His teachings as revealed in Scripture? Overall, the teachings of Jesus can be summed up in two basic themes: Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.
Act upon Jesus’ Words. When you are studying scripture, you should always be asking yourself, “How should I live now knowing this?” Ultimately, the study of scripture should be more than an intellectual exercise. It should also change your heart.
No matter how bad the storm is it, it will eventually pass. They always do. May you find your house of faith has been built upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
Enjoy the song of the week: Build My Life by Pat Barrett
2. Spend some time building. Maybe that outdoor project is calling your name. Or more likely, you can pull that old Lego set out of the closet. Remind yourself, in a tangible way, of the importance of building a firm foundation first and foremost.
3. Take a moment and reflect on how your faith has been affected during this time of COVID-19. Make a plan to hold onto what has been good and let go of what has been bad.