Hurricane Matthew is presently gaining strength in the warmer waters north of Cuba. The hurricane will reach the Bahamas later today before continuing on a path towards the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
People are preparing.
My father is preparing. I spoke with my father earlier today. He was getting ready to drive to Edisto, where he and his siblings have a family house. He was going to prepare the house. I know what preparing the house would involve. A few years ago, I helped my father prepare the house for a storm that ended up missing our coastline. We shut off the water, grabbed a few items, and stole one last moment with house to remember the good times. Our pessimistic approach to preparation stemming from our awareness that a home is only as good as its foundation especially when a fierce storm is approaching.
Jesus tells a parable about two homes built upon different foundations (Matthew7:24-27). A wise builder built his home on rock. A foolish man built his home upon sand. A storm surged. Rain fell. Streams rose. Wind beat against the houses. The house built upon the rock withstood the storm, but the other house fell “with a great crash.”
Jesus shares this parabolic teaching with his audience at the end of his “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). Within the first of his sermons (or teaching discourses), Jesus addresses a variety of issues including examples of righteous living and appropriate acts of piety. The “Sermon on the Mount” is the most articulate ethical discourse of Jesus in all of Scripture. He concludes with a series of warnings, the two houses with different foundations, being the final warning.
The point is clear: Jesus encourages his audience to put his teaching into practice. Building upon the teaching of Jesus would be the equivalent to building upon a solid foundation.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” — Matthew 7:24
Life is full of storms. Some of life’s storms can be detected on a radar – wind, rain, thunder. Other storms are a little less easy to detect, but equally devastating – tragedy, illness, injustice. Detected or undetected, these storms rip through our life, relentlessly and unapologetically laying waste to it path.
How can one prepare for such a storm?
Secure the foundation.
Build upon the rock of God’s word revealed in Jesus Christ.
I preached on this parable a few years ago with a similar message: the only way to face the storms of life without the fear of falling “with a great crash” is to first establish a faith upon a sturdy foundation! Preparedness is simply the effort we take to form a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ, which aims to empower us to live according to the will of God! It is the attention we give to Jesus Christ during the calm moments of our life so that we can rely upon that relationship during the stormy moments.
We prepare in all the usual ways: worshipping, praying, studying scripture, serving, giving, etc. More importantly, though, we prepare by making Jesus Christ a priority in our life when everything is going well. We trust the relationship we prioritize and celebrate in the peaceful moments of life will further secure the foundation we need to weather life’s fiercest storms.