I had an occasion a few years ago to visit our missionary in Chile. They have a house and retreat center not too far from the shoreline. One of our administrators questioned the wisdom of expanding the retreat center further since it was in such a dangerous area.
Chile experiences frequent earthquakes, supposedly I experienced one firsthand, but I slept through it entirely. Often, shortly after these earthquakes comes a tsunami, so it is a double whammy if you live on the coast. Our administrator was right to question the wisdom of further investing money into that property, only he was missing one key piece of information that I knew by seeing the location firsthand: this retreat center was built solidly on top of a rock, a tall mountain of a rock. Right across the street, literally in the middle of the road was a wide yellow line with the words “Tsunami Line” painted there. This was intended to let people fleeing from the rising water to know exactly when they could stop running. They were safe on the other side of that line.
In life, we rarely are as cautious as that administrator, concerned and weighing the cost of what we are building and what on?
Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27 KJV
Matthew here addresses a serious disconnect among Christians between hearing and doing. The wise man does both, most do neither.
Studying this made me think of a reality TV show where people are competing to become an executive chef for a popular restaurant. The challenges involve more than just being a good cook, you also need to be able to run a kitchen. Usually, all the contestants are quite good at cooking, but falter at running the kitchen.
The executive chef calls out the order, “two salmons and three beef wellingtons,” and the contestant chef yells out, “Heard, yes chef!” Then at the moment of reckoning, when they bring the order to the executive chef to serve, they bring three salmons and two beef wellingtons.
Like so many times in our lives, maybe we “heard,” but didn’t really “listen.” Sometimes we don’t really do either. But the instructions still aren’t complete, even if we “listened,” but we don’t do them.
Matthew points out here that the wise man does all three, he hears, he listens, and then he does. When he does carry each point out, he’s like a man that invests his life building something that will not be easily washed away because the wrong foundation will wash away with anything that is built on it. A strong foundation will keep anything built on it safe and strong.
I see far too often people building their lives on things that clearly will not stand up to a storm. It’s almost like they have convinced themselves that there isn’t a big storm coming. Big storms are obvious, and likely we will each face one or more in our lives. But it’s even the small storms that just as easily over time erode our foundation out beneath us until finally the whole superstructure collapses. And Matthew hits the point hard that so few people realize it is coming until it is here, and that is that when it falls… the fall will be great. It doesn’t seem like he is talking about a fall that will require some patching and some paint, he’s describing a tsunami type destruction where villages and towns are erased.
We will each find ourselves in just such storms in our life at some point if not frequently. What type of flood insurance do we have to make certain our lives will survive the storms and tsunamis headed our way?
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
President / CEO
January 17, 2023