Some say that trials build character. Maybe. But I think this is more accurate. Trials reveal character. Especially as I continue to walk through Luke and read these words:
Luke 6:46-49- “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Two men are trying to build houses. They represent all of us.. It is one thing to rent a house. It is another to buy a house. It is a whole different experience to build your own house.
Houses aren’t just brick and mortar. When you build your own house you are trying to create space for your dreams. You add bedrooms thinking of the children that will grow up in them, you plan a fireplace with a vision of the nights that will be spent making memories with love ones huddled around it. You place the dining room with pictures of the conversations and laughter that will be shared around that table. I had a friend who designed the staircase in his house thinking of the day his daughter would walk down it in a wedding gown.
Building a house represents building a life, a family, a heritage, and a future. So it isn’t a “house” so much as a “home”.
Jesus knows we are all trying to do that.
The life we are building is going to be tested.
Storms come into every life. No matter what you are building, the strength and integrity of it will be tested. The scripture tells us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised when you suffer painful trials, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” (I Peter 4:12)
But we always are surprised.
We are always stunned when we hear our boss say, “We have to let you go.” We are never prepared to hear our doctor say, “The tests are bad we need to begin aggressive treatments for cancer.” We cannot conceive of the day that the person we married, whom we thought we knew better than anyone else, tells us they have been with someone else. We do not build our lives expecting storms. But storms will be a reality in every one of the lives we are trying to build. These weather patterns are common to the climate of the world we share.
We build with the same sort of material
Jesus says both of these men had heard his teaching on many critical and eternal truths. Truth is what we build upon. Truth is the raw material of our lives. Both of these men, like most of us, had listened to his words. They both had a God-breathed, blueprint for building relationships, families, and communities that would bring them the happiness we all long for and durability we all need. So do we.
We have read the same Bibles, attended similar worship services, and heard the sermons. We have heard the words. But then the similarity ends and Jesus describes the tragic difference. One man’s house stands and the other’s totally collapses. This happens because of the second, and most critical difference. One man built his life on truth, the other didn’t. The first man’s house stands but Jesus says of the second man’s house, “…it’s destruction was complete.”
Nothing will be salvaged that is not built on truth. No romance, no marriage, no achievement will last that is not built on truth. Every area of our lives is affected by what we believe. More importantly, how we behave because of what we believe.
If you don't live it, you don't really believe it.
The most important part of a home, or a life, is the part that no one sees. The foundations you lay down deep in your own heart. The absolute truths and values you make every decision and take every action upon.
So Jesus tells us the decision that sets the dividing line in the quality of our lives. This is how Jesus describes it, you hear his words and you put them into practice. You dig down deep. You dig down past going to church occasionally and enduring a sermon. You dig down past all the excuses for not being generous, for not getting involved in justice, for not living a sexually pure life, for not doing whatever seems out of step and inconvenient with your lifestyle or the lifestyle that is prevalent around you. You dig down past the shallow, superficial, cultural forms of religion where people simply show up on Sunday and listen. You actually dig down past all that and decide to do what Jesus says.
You take the time to budget your money based on Kingdom principles. You wait patiently for the type of person you should be in relationship with. You exercise the discipline and do the work nobody sees or applauds. This obedience becomes the foundation for the life you are trying to build.
Foundations are the key
Nobody builds a house during a storm. You build a house that will stand before the storms come along. The choices you are making when things are calm and normal are determining whether what you build will stand when the trials come. The choices you are making about giving, about dating and marrying, about forgiving and serving, about worship and learning right now this very normal day…
These choices determine whether you will stand when the storms come. If you have not built on the words of Jesus in your day-to-day life then, when you are tested, all your “convictions” and “beliefs” will be carried away. In the time of storm, we will not give financially but will shut down, in the time of relational struggle we will not honor our marriage vows but divorce, in times of betrayal and disagreement we will not forgive or love but lash out, sever our relationships, and get even or get bitter.
So I encourage you. Today, when things seem normal in your life, get in the habit of doing what Jesus tells us to do. It is how you serve the Lord today that will determine how your life stands up when the storms show up. Think about it and let’s keep walking together.
Just a thought.