Nan and I will never forget the events of April 10, 1979. We had just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. At the time I was a student at Southwestern Seminary, and also served as the pastor of the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. The morning of April 10 two seminary buddies and I piled into a car to make the two-hour commute to Fort Worth for classes. We had no idea the dramatic changes that awaited us that day.
At about 6pm that evening a massive tornado swept across North Texas. The church parsonage which was our home was directly in the path of the twister with winds of over 150 mph. In a matter of minutes virtually nothing was left of our house but a few random walls … and the foundation. With that foundation in place we were able to quickly begin the work of rebuilding our house.
Our next-door neighbor’s home didn’t fair so well. There was nothing left but a bare spot on the lot where the house once stood. Her house was built on a similar foundation as ours, but with one glaring exception: the wooden beams were not secured to the concrete piers that had been poured in the ground. A foundation isn’t much good if the house isn’t actually attached to it.
That image comes to mind just about every time I read the parable that Jesus told about the wise builder who built his house on a solid rock, and the foolish builder who built is house on the sand. The wise man’s house withstood a vicious storm because his house “had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). The foolish man’s house did not withstand the storm because he “built his house on sand” (7:26).
The truth Jesus was driving home was this:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
Jesus calls for two strategic activities as they relate to His teachings.
First, we are to hear his words. Passionate followers of Jesus Christ hunger for His words. They are life to us. When many of Jesus’ supposed followers were abandoning Him, Jesus turned to His inner circle and asked, “Do you want to leave me to?” Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We follow Christ because He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Second, we are to put Jesus’ words into practice. Hearing the teachings of Jesus is not enough. We must apply them in our lives each day. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about merely knowing what Jesus said. I’m reminded of this when we take trips to Israel. Often our guides are Israelis who neither believe in nor follow Jesus Christ. But they know what Jesus taught.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). Authentic discipleship means abiding in and obeying the teachings of the Master. In fact, I can’t really claim to love Jesus is I’m not obeying Him. Jesus could not have stated this more clearly when He said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
And when we hear and obey the teachings of Jesus we are like wise builders who construct our lives on the foundation of God’s Word. When the storms of life come (and they will!) our lives will stand because they are built on the rock.
One more thought: The time to put the foundation of your life in place is before the storms hit. Start today with a steady diet of God’s Word. Put His teachings to work in your life. This will give you stability no matter what adversity may come your way.