Over the past month or so my family has been in the midst of a transition. About a month ago we got keys to our house and for the past several weeks, we have been doing project after project trying to prepare the house for us to live in. Now, for those of you who don’t know me - I have very limited skills in construction projects.
Nonetheless, we have done project after project, painting and tearing down walls and putting new ones up, removing carpet, and moving boxes. And moving more boxes. One of the things that’s interesting in the midst of these never-ending house projects is that none of the work is actually determining whether or not our house is going to stand throughout the night. None of our projects are actually determining whether or not our house is a safe place to live.
In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus concludes his sermon he uses a construction metaphor to describe the Christian faith. And Jesus speaks of the foundation. He speaks of the part of the house that we rarely see, yet is so incredibly important.
“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.” - Matthew 7:24-27
Notice what both house experience.
“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew…”
It’s not that one house just happens to have great weather conditions, while the other was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both houses face the storm. And it’s once the storm hits that we realize that there’s a problem with the foundation.
And isn’t that the way it always works? We don’t ever realize we have a problem until the storm hits. The reality for most people is that any creed or belief system is perfectly sufficient when there is no storm; it is only when the storm hits that we find the flaws in our foundation exposed.
Let’s consider the two houses that Jesus references. Both houses might have looked very similar. In fact, the house on the sand may have even looked better. Perhaps as you drove by the house on the sand, it had perfect curb appeal. Maybe it had brand new windows and beautiful siding. Maybe the landscaping was done just right to make the home seem like the perfect vacation home.
But when the storm hits, the decorations on the house don’t matter.
When your walls come crashing down, it doesn’t matter what art you have hanging on the walls. The only thing that matters when the storm hits is whether or not the house will stay standing int he storm.
So often as Christians we are focused on the externals of the house. Perhaps we are focused on the material things of life - we give ourselves to what we own or how much we make. Many of us focused on the externals of our Christian behavior - and so we do what we can to make sure the outside of the house looks good. We practice our Christian piety in order that we might have good curb appeal while ignoring a crumbling foundation underneath our feet.
And then the storm hits.
And when the storm hits, the foundation finally gets revealed. No pious behavior or accumulated possessions will keep the house standing in the storm. In the midst of the storm as the walls begin to rattle and shake, the flaws in our foundation get revealed. And what we find is that there is one thing that keeps the house standing and it’s not the designer of the house, its not the architect, and it’s not the owner of the house.
It’s the rock.
The Rock saves the house. It’s the rock that keeps the house standing in the midst of the storm. Jesus keeps us standing in the midst of the storm. In the moments when you feel like your house might come crumbling down, know that Jesus keeps you standing in the storm. In the moments when you are exhausted from trying to reinforce the walls, rest because it is not on you to keep the house standing. In the midst of the storms of life, it is only Jesus who can keep us standing. When the storms created by our own sin and failures beat against our house, when the storms done against us shake the walls, Jesus is the rock that keeps us on our feet.
"By the grace that God has given me I laid a foundation as an expert builder. And someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds for no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 3:10-11
In the midst of the storm, do not fear.
Because Jesus promises to keep you standing.
In the midst of the storm, as your house rattles and shakes, do not worry. Because Jesus promises to be with you, to protect you, and to keep you standing.
And as you feel exhausted and burdened by the weight of trying to reinforce the house and keep everything from falling apart, hear Jesus as he says, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest." In the midst of the storm, rest. Because Jesus keeps you standing when you can't keep yourself up