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! There are appealing places like this in Israel too. One such place is mentioned in Psalm 23:2. We often translate the word in this passage as "green pastures", but this Hebrew word actually relates to the well-watered and green area at the bottom of a wadi (wah-dee). "What's a wadi?" you ask. Wadiis are like canyons, but not as wide. They are carved out of the limestone rock found in the wilderness area of Israel in the same way the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon in the United States. One Israel’s more beautiful wadiis is the Wadi Avdaht. The entrance to Avdat (Ahv-daht) is misleading. It is wide and semi-barren with high limestone walls flanking either side. The greenery there is due to a small stream found near the center of the gorge. As you walk alongside the stream heading deeper into the wadi, its width grows until you reach a silvery thin waterfall cascading over the upper rim at the end. A large pool of water collects there and it is absolutely beautiful! As nice as a wadi can be, the comfort they offer is tenuous. Shepherds who raised their flocks in this area knew the layout of a wadi inside and out, and the wisest shepherds knew it was best 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. It's not necessarily convenient to build on the top of those tall rock walls. 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. But, Jesus warns, building in the sand, is unsafe! Wadiis are notorious for flash floods that often come without warning. Rain from miles above them can come rushing through the gorge like the way rainwater pours through a broken gutter. When the rain comes down through a wadi (and it will), if you’ve built your house in the bottom of a 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 have come to believe that life should be easy and comfortable, so we put all our energy into accomplishing that. We’ll finance, work overtime, get the best education for a better paying job, and do 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 life may look good, but it’s dangerous because when storms come rushing in, the sandy foundation upon which we’ve built dissolves 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 proving there are no guarantees that anything will last. Still, many of us continue to build in the bottom of a wadi.
If the bottom of a wadi is not where a believer should build, then 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.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre