"What's a wadi?" you ask. As described before wadiis are like gorges, but not as wide. They were carved out of the limestone in the wilderness area in the same way the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon. A wadi’s most appealing feature, for those that have water, is the area in the center where the water flows. In fact that area is actually what is being referred to in Ps. 23:2. It is often translated as “green pastures”, but the Hebrew word there is specifically the one for this well-watered green area where plants are able to grow. They make a perfect grazing spot for hungry and thirsty sheep. But, shepherds who raise their flocks in these areas of Israel must know the layout of a wadi inside and out, because although they are a great water source, they are also dangerous. Rain can cause flash flooding in a wadi, so it is wiser to get your water and leave, rather than make yourself comfortable and stay.
Jesus had this geographical characteristic in mind when He told the parable of the two builders in Luke 6:46-49. Maybe you remember singing this as a child: "The wise man built his house upon the rock...". It's not necessarily convenient to build on the top of those tall rock walls. It would be far more pleasant to build down in the gorge, next to the water source. It’s so much easier when you don't have to lug those big water urns up and down the path. It's not so stressful and much more comfortable. And think about all the time you save in not having to haul your water around! But, Jesus warns, building in the sand, is unsafe! Wadiis are notorious for flash floods that often come without warning as rain from miles above where you are can rush through them like the way rain pours through a gutter. When the rains come down in a wadi (and they will), if you’ve built your house in the bottom of the wadi, it will most certainly wash away.
Wadis hold a great spiritual lesson for us (which is why Jesus used them as an example!). It's tempting for us to "build our lives" in the conveniences of the world. We are bombarded with advertisements that tell us we deserve it and how much we will miss out on if we don’t have THIS or THAT. We come to believe that life should be easy and comfortable and we put all our energy into accomplishing that way of life. We’ll finance, work overtime, get the best education for a better paying job, whatever it takes to achieve the “Dream”. The trouble is, putting trust in the comforts of this world, and doing whatever it takes to get them, is like building a house in the bottom of a wadi. Our world looks good, but it’s dangerous; because when storms come rushing into our little world, the sandy foundation upon which it is built gets washed away in those rushing torrents of water. And in this day and age people are facing more and more uncertainty about what the future may hold and there are no guarantees that anything will last. Still, many of us continue to build in the bottom of a wadi.
But if the bottom of a wadi is not where a believer should build, where should we build? Jesus says in verse 47 that those who come to Him, hear His words, and act on them have built their life on the rock- those tall sides of the wadi that are flood-free. Jesus tells us in this parable that the rock is God’s Word. If we are letting the Bible guide us in the way we live and what we believe, when the storms of life come (and they will come), we will be able to withstand the tempest. It is certainly more popular to build on worldly things. It's easier, more comfortable. But it's unstable. Today's fads are tomorrow's history lessons. The latest trends are forgotten tomorrow when the "next big thing" becomes news. So, why build on this shifting sand? Build your life on God's Word so that you will stand firm when storms come your way (Proverbs 3:1-8; Colossians 3:2).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div. Week of 11/5/2017