Matthew 7. You could move your arms up and down, pat the air and clap your hands to the song about these two men before you could string together a sentence. Two very different builders–one wise, the other foolish. Two different allegorical verbs with the same direct object: “does them” and “does them not.” Two distinct houses on very different foundations–one of sand and one of stone. Two opposite results. One verse ended with hands resolutely clasped together–a firm standing; the other with a giant clap as you illustrated the crash of the foolish man’s house. So much is so different about these men and their life stories.
But one thing is the same. One difficult thing is the same in every story, in every life. It’s the same in the lives of the wise and foolish. It’s the same in my life and yours: “The rains fell and the floods came and the wind blew and beat upon that house…” That’s the consistent factor in two very different series of events.
Last weekend I asked everyone over forty in the audience to which I was speaking to stand up. Then I asked everyone who’d ever faced a day when she had no idea how she was going to handle the crisis in her world…anyone who’d ever had an “I-cannot-believe-this-is-happening-to-me” day, to sit down. All standing women sat down, except one. The winds and rain had come in every life of appreciable age in the room, except one. Do you know what that one standing woman took from that illustration? She understood that she’d better get prepared, because the storms come to every life. EVERY life.
Sometimes they are a direct result of personal sin. David had his Bathsheba chapter. Moses was prohibited from Canaan. Judas purchased a rope and found a tree. Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Sometimes they result from events that are no fault of my own. Jacob examined a bloody coat and mourned. Daniel was in the midst of lions and the three Hebrew children were joined in the fire by the minister of God, Himself.
But they are coming to your life. The difference in devastation by them and growth through them is foundational…literally. The sand is disobedience to the “sayings” of the Lord. The rock is doing the “sayings” of Jesus. Both men in Matthew 7 heard the sayings. But the response to the sayings was the difference between refuge and rubble.
I pick refuge. I want my house to be standing when the facades of the world have crumbled. I want Jesus. I want His sayings and I want his blessings. I find his sayings as I read his life and teachings from the precious pages of my favorite book. I have copies of that book everywhere in my house and car. I open them often and I mark them up. That’s how I hear the sayings. But hearing is not enough. The foolish man heard the sayings. I have to do them. There’s the rub. People offer me acceptance to ignore the sayings. People mock me and sometimes call me hypocritical–judging motives–when I really am trying to do the sayings. I get discouraged and wonder “Am I really doing the sayings? ” when prayer seems strained and waiting on the Lord seems a long process. And, in these times when I am hearing the rain and the wind blowing into my world, I have to just find resolve. I go back and examine the culturally challenging commands of the Lord from this sermon…the things he said right before he gave the wise man/foolish man challenge…and I work to DO them. It’s powerful that Jesus said, just before he told us that the wise man built his house upon the rock “Not everyone that says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my Father in heaven.” The prep work for storms–my foundation and flood gate–is just that. It’s work. It is doing. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
God is my refuge and strength. He is a very present help in my time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)! But He rescues and rewards on a select foundation.