Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink! That little ditty ran through my head several times during the first full week of March 2011. Not only did we see record rainfall in my area of the Northeast, but an earthquake in Japan set off a tsunami which destroyed property and beaches in the Northwest. The rainfall coupled with melting snow caused rivers and creeks to overflow their banks and commuters to detour around the more troublesome areas of flooding. Thanks to the fact that I had to drive up Route 209 more than once that week, I was able to see the rising waters first hand. One Saturday afternoon found me stopping at the Bushkill Access on the Delaware River to take a rather comical picture of the Stop sign submerged in four feet of water with debris caught on the One Way sign below it. There was lots of water, but not much of it was worthy to drink.
Sometimes I marvel at people who build houses along the coast or next to a river. They must know about the risks, but the setting is so appealing, it's worth the risk I suppose. I have to confess I've daydreamed about living near the ocean. I love the vast horizon, the sound of the waves, and the shells! In the past I did wish I could live there. I also thought living on a farm in one of the Plains states would be just as nice because they too have wonderfully flat horizons and wide open skies. One season of Storm Stories cured both of those desires! Hurricanes and tornadoes are not that appealing to me even though the landscape might be. There are appealing places to live like this in Israel too. One such place is mentioned in Psalm 23:2. We often translate the word as "green pastures", but this Hebrew word actually relates to the well-watered and green area at the bottom of a wadi.
"What's a wadi?" you ask. 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. 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 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 rock walls; most of them are quite high. In ancient times when there were no pumping stations to bring the water to you it was far more pleasant and so much easier to build down in the gorge, next to the water source. When you build next to the water, you don't have to lug those big water urns up and down the path. It's convenient. It's comfortable. But Jesus warns his listeners that building in the sand, is unsafe! When the rains come down, and they will, your house will wash away just like a flash flood in a wadi washes away everything in its path.
It's tempting for us to "build our lives" in the conveniences of the world. We think life should be easy, comfortable and advertisers are all too happy to convince us this is true. The trouble is, putting trust in the comforts of this world, is like building a house in the bottom of a wadi. So, when storms come rushing into our little world, its sandy foundation is washed away with the water.
What should disciples build on? 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. 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 LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre