Sunday, September 17, 2006

Storms & the Rock

Every so often I think of the top ten things I want to do before I die, but one thing that’s never made the list is huddling in a small closet with my family and dog, praying that God will spare our home, our lives, and more importantly, our faith and joy in him no matter what the outcome. But that’s exactly what happened Saturday night.

That night a violent storm hit the Rogers area. It pushed over power-poles, snapped trees like they were twigs, and damaged or destroyed around 100 homes. In fact, one of the families on our church planting team sustained severe damage to their home—about half the roof and a portion of the back of it are now gone. Tomorrow they’ll find out if the house is a total loss.

As hard as that was and will be for them to go through, another family from the same neighborhood was hit even harder by the news that their ten-year-old daughter died when their house collapsed.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that the text that has been foremost on my mind today is Matthew 7:24-27--“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Earlier this week, I read the words of a pastor who said, “I believe in inerrancy, I just don’t think about it in the same way fundamentalists do. For instance, I don’t believe that the creation stories in Genesis are literal, and I think that most of the Old Testament is metaphorical.” (Translated meaning, “When the Old Testament purports to be historical, it’s lying—but I believe that the lies are without error.”)

This kind of thinking will not endure the storms of life. Non-historical metaphors will not sustain you when straight-line winds drive you into the closet, or tear the roof off your home, or kill your daughter. What you need in times like this is a rock for your soul that will not give way.

And Matthew 7:24-27 is not at all ambiguous about what that rock is—it is the words of Jesus Christ, taken literally, taken seriously, and applied to life over a long period of time—“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them…” The words and ways of Jesus are the only rock, and without that rock someday there will come a storm that will blow the house of your soul away.

Today I spent some time thinking about which of Jesus’ words would particularly comfort and sustain and stretch me if it was my home that had been destroyed or my daughter who had died. Here are several that immediately came to mind:

Matthew 11:28-30—“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 6:31-34—“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Mark 10:14—“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-25—“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

John 11:35—“Jesus wept.”

It’s more crucial than we know to build our lives daily on the rock of Jesus’ words. For then we will be “like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” I pray that you will, along with me, strive to found your life on the rock.

I close with the words to one of my favorite hymns; I hope they comfort and help you:


THE SOLID ROCK
My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness,
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name,
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest on his unchanging grace,
On every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil,
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, his covenant, his blood, support me in the whelming flood,
When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay,
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in him be found,
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne,
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

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