Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:25a “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds
blew, and beat upon that house;. . .”
Jesus is using the erection of a house to picture the building of a life. The rock on which we need to build our lives is the hearing and doing of Jesus’ words. Foundation-work is hidden labor, energy expended in private. It is unpleasant, requiring us to deal with our sins. It takes time, we have to hide in the Bible. It is essential that we take adequate time to develop our love-relationship with Jesus.
If we do this, and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our lives will still be filled with troubles. Even a house built on the rock has to endure storms. In this world, “they lived happily ever after” is found only in fairy tales.
“Calm and sunny” is never the only forecast in a day’s weather. In every life, a storm is always brewing or blowing, coming or present. At the very moment we begin to think all is quiet, the heavens suddenly become overcast, and a storm is unleashed upon us. In an instant, health, security, friends, or family can be gone.
Jesus compared troubles to the billows of a storm. Rains of testing fall from above, pummelling the roof. Floods of tragedy rise from below, seeking to erode the foundation. Winds of adversity howl from all directions, causing walls to creak. We all know what it means to feel our house rocking. Life is often a terrible strain.
The question is, what are we to do about these storms? Most people live with the illusion they can somehow avoid troubles. They spend their whole lives trying to figure out ways to dodge difficulties rather than taking time to learn how to deal with them. Storms are not life’s ultimate issue. The foundation matters most.
Matt. 7:25b “. . .and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
The house stood. Everything fell on it, but it did not fall. Rather than seeking a pollyannish existence, people need to know it is possible to fight the endless wars of life, and yet proceed from victory to victory. Even in the ordinary, unavoidable emergencies of life, it is possible to find joy repeatedly.
Storms regularly come into everyone’s existence in order to fulfill a divine purpose. Rain and flood reveal our lives for what they really are. Not until the winds of crisis begin to blow can we tell a Judas Iscariot from a John the Beloved.
God is good. He lets storms blow into our lives so that we can always know how things stand between Him and us. Jesus does not want us to be in doubt as to our standing before Him at any given moment. Till storms come, it is often hard to tell the real from the counterfeit inside us. The outward appearance of our spiritual house may not tell us what we really need to know about it. Rain, flood, and wind tell us whether or not we are anchoring ourselves to something storms cannot reach.
Howling gales of tears hit us in many ways. What are they revealing about our connection to the foundation, to being rooted in hearing and doing God’s will?
Is a rain of perplexity causing our roof to leak? We all struggle with why good people have to suffer, but bitterness becomes a viable option when someone we love is in agony. Thirty years ago my Sunday School teacher lost his son due to a long-term illness. Before the boy died, my teacher never missed church; after the boy died, my teacher never attended church. He became so focused on the storm of his son’s death that he forgot to notice something had gone wrong in the foundation.
Is a flood of confusion chipping away at our foundation? Life is complex. We do not know all the solutions to life’s problems. This week I was asked my opinion about certain pressing spiritual problems in our culture. I responded, “You asked me that question ten years too late. A decade ago I had all the answers. Now I don’t have a clue.” When life is a fog, and our brains a blur, do we hold to the foundation, or focus too much on the storms? Since life is uncertain, fear can paralyze us. What if I fail? What if my children fail? How will I fare in the dreaded Day of Judgment? Obsession with the storm can cause us to neglect the foundation.
Is a wind of disappointment blowing our wall down? Careful plans and hard work did not keep the success and prize from eluding our grasp. We are tempted to give up. Wait!–maybe the goal was okay, but had become an idol. Had the house, car, job, promotion, boyfriend, or girlfriend we sought become our focus? Thank God for a storm jerking us back from idolatry and restoring our spiritual senses.
Is a rain of sorrow overflowing the gutters of our roof? Sickness is difficult. It is no small trial to have to live a long while in one room. It is easier for some of us to go to China than for others to go from the bedroom to the kitchen every morning. Sickness always tests my mettle. I do not handle it well. Bereavement is another severe sting. Death is closing in, coming to us all. Are we prepared? We need to dwell less on the sorrow, whatever it be, and work more on the foundation.
Is a flood of persecution chipping away at our base? We see ridicule in how unbelievers look at us, we hear it in their tone of voice–they laugh at us, call us idiots and bumpkins, say we are out of step and need to get a life. Concentrating on this storm has drained away our courage. In a culture racing to Hell, we who alone have the words of life are awfully quiet. Our silence is deafening. At work, school, or play, reproach is hard to bear. We can overcome it only if grounded in the Word.
Is a wind of temptation blasting holes in the walls of our mind? Satan, alive and well, has our phone number and address. He knows where to find us. Out of the blue, an evil thought hits us. Stunned, and feeling violated and dirty, we ask ourselves, where did that come from? Without warning, the memory of a forgotten evil hits us. The Lord forgets, but Satan doesn’t. Lucifer loves to remind us and to make our past haunt us. He also makes the present lure us. The world is seductive. Ten percent of my income for things seems smaller than the ten percent God asks for. Worldliness is a goop ever seeking to ooze its way back into our minds. A few days of dwelling on the storm, and slacking up on the foundation, can be disastrous.
The storms of life are blowing, and our lives are lightning rods, like it or not. Pray that the lightning, rather than burning our spiritual vitality to ashes, will make us glow as lighthouses for God. We believers are not the Rock, and are in no way capable of being the bedrock Foundation for anyone else’s life. However, we can be so attached to the Rock that we ourselves become, as it were, an extension of the Rock. We can be lightning rods that endure the storms and yet stand as lighthouses. Amidst howling winds and crashing waves, we can stand firm on the Rock, helping others find it, and holding forth the light as a beacon to call others to a safe haven.
Rains are falling, floods are rising, winds are howling. Which houses are going to stand? The ones built solidly on the Rock.