Ready for the storm?

Ready for the storm

After watching TV footage of Tropical Storm Nicole, the children’s song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock,” was streaming through my mind.  Off of Florida’s eastern coast, reporters were showing the Atlantic’s turbulent waves biting off chunks of homes along with their foundations sending them to a watery grave, never to be seen again by their inhabitants.  Watching the structures being ripped from their shallow foundation prompted the song which comes from Jesus’s parable recorded in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49.  

The parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders goes like this: Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. — Matthew 7:24-27 NLT

Just reading that Passage over and over, I feel the intensity of the situation.  Then as I read, “it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock,” my body relaxes.  I feel less anxious and more confident — all from those nine words.  Then, as I finish the parable, I tense up again at “collapse with a mighty crash.”

Solid foundation

Many of Jesus’s parables are allegories.  The purpose of the builders’ story is not to advise you when constructing your home’s foundation.  Those folks who have houses on the beach probably checked them structurally for withstanding a hurricane.  They, including inspectors and engineers, probably could not have foreseen homes getting washed from underneath them, or they wouldn’t have built them there.  

The story is getting at the material that you build your life on.  What is important?  What should be your platform, your roots, your engine?  We have a small pond in our backyard and a creek that runs the back property line.  Our house sits on a hill and is not in a flood zone, thus we didn’t consider buying flood insurance.  However, when the 500-year storm named Hurricane Ian passed through, our storage areas under the house flooded where a lot of our belongings, including old photos and yearbooks, were ruined.  Also, our deck and bridge gave way, but they had been showing their age since we moved in a couple years ago.  When we were cutting apart the mangled structures for disposal, their weak foundation was exposed: the footers were too shallow.  The concrete holding the post in place was about 6 to 8 inches deep and probably about the same amount wide.  And, there was only about 12-18 inches of post in the ground past the concrete — not nearly substantial enough.  However, the structure lasted about 40 years, through numerous hurricanes.  It goes to show that your luck can last a long time, but if your foundation isn’t solid, you will eventually collapse.  

Holy whispering

Close up of Livin' Light's The Good LIfe shirt on folded light gray T-shirt on a wood background. Psalm 23:5-6
By following God, you experience The Good Life. By drinking in His Word, you are fulfilled with goodness and love as described in Proverbs 23:5-6

I realize that I have not given over my whole life to God, so I have been asking His Spirit to be strong in me … to take over my every thought, feeling action, motivation.  The Spirit will nudge me one way or the other, but more times that I like to admit, my humanity talks over the Spirit’s whisper.  Not putting God as my priority, I sideline His wishes.  

When my own will is active, I feel unsettled, unsatisfied.  I was pondering what makes me feel complete: It is when I do something wholeheartedly, something that the Spirit has charged me to do.  When I obey the Spirit, telling me to go talk to or help someone, I leave feeling good.  The Spirit tells us how to live, we just have to hear and obey.  

Don’t collapse!

This is all in line with the builders’ parable: If we are steadfast to Jesus’ teaching, we have a solid footing with Him as our foundation, our ROCK!  And, as the Passage says, although the rains pour down, floodwaters rise and winds beat against us, we will remain standing.  Those who choose to do otherwise, building their life on shifting sands — money, fame, perfection, lies, ego, superiority, political agenda, swindling, anything that is void of righteousness — collapse.  

The parable has to do with the foundation of your being … your soul.  “What do you stand for?” is really not the question.  That would be self-serving.  It is living for Jesus and what He stands for.  Jesus tells us what He stands for in Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT): You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Reading the Bible
Reading the Bible is God’s Word. It shows us through example after example how if we put our faith in God, we will prevail.

Love God

How do you love God? Read the Bible.  Yes, It’s a big book.  You can skim it to pick up some ideas.  Look in Psalms to quiet your soul. Read some Proverbs for good advice.  The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — and Acts tell about Jesus.  Actually, the whole Bible is about Jesus.  Reading it, you will undoubtedly have lots of questions.  Find the answers in a study Bible, a concordance, internet searches, clergy or asking a believer.  A book that I read to understand the framework of the Bible is “30 Days to Understanding the Bible” by Max Anders.  There are also books that provide historical background to help readers understand the cultural climate of Biblical times.  If something doesn’t make sense in Scripture, then look for the answers.  There is an explanation.  Seek and you shall find. 

Matthew 7:7-8 NLT — Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Love others

As far as loving others, Jesus put it perfectly when He said love others as much as you love yourself.  Did you grab all the sale items at the grocery store and leave none for others?  Did you say something to a friend that may have upset them, but felt it was not a big enough deal to apologize?  Does your sarcasm go too far?  Are you in a hurry and beep your horn and scare an elderly driver or a young student driver who is doing her best?  Maybe you snap at home because you are stressed and feel that at home, you can let go.  Do you leave others to do a project because you have too much to do?  Do you check up on those who have no family?  Do you judge, not knowing a person’s full story?  Do I say these from experience, YES!  I’m working on all of that : )

How do you get inspired to love others?  You read the Bible and understand that Jesus is real and our Savior.  You follow His example.  Then as a gift for believing in Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit who guides you along to loving God and others.  Is just going to church once a week enough?  No, you need to read and understand the Word to understand what God is about.  His way to live will become much clearer with every verse you read.

Jesus told us that if we build our life on Him, we will not fall!  So, why not build your foundation deeper and stronger with Jesus Christ, so you can withstand ANY situation that comes your way?

Leigh An Coplin has been a Christian since she can remember and continues to grow in her love for God every day.  With God as her guide, she started Livin’ Light, a Christian apparel business and online resource.  She has a B.A. in Journalism from Texas Tech University and has worked at the Lee’s Summit Journal, Pacific Business News and The Honolulu Advertiser.  Leigh An lives in the greater Orlando area.

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