Friday, October 1, 2010

Is This Thing On? pt. 2

I love the phrasing in the New King James version of the story of the homebuilders--it’s epic and vivid and dramatic:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-29

I’ll stand here right now and thank Jesus for those words. Boy howdy are they true. There have been a few moments lately where all I could do was just hang on to something and hope not to be blown away.

Notice also Jesus says here that the key to building your house on the rock is not just hearing His words, but doing them as well. Someone may know all about Jesus and his teachings, and may even agree that they’re pretty spiffy, but you gotta DO them. Knowing and Doing. You need them both. It’s the only way to get through the storm intact.

I won’t even pretend that my recent storms have been anywhere near as hard to endure as what some others have been going through, but they’ve been trying nonetheless. And I’ll tell ya…my house definitely would have crashed if my wife and I hadn’t built on the Rock. And great would have been its fall.

As it is, our house is battered and we’re bruised. The paint job probably needs some work now (and I must apologize to those who’ve seen the effects of our loss of smooth exterior). We’ve lost a few shingles from the roof, and I think a couple windows are blown out.

But we’re still standing.

The storm is winding down now, and although it still blows a bit today, it’s no longer raging, thank God.

And our house stands.

I absolutely love The Screwtape Letters, in which one of Satan’s minions is tutoring his protégé in the ways of ensnaring mankind:

Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
There are times in everyone’s lives when things get so desperate that all you can do is cling as hard as you can to whatever gods or gurus you’ve built your house on and hold on for dear life. I know there are those who say I would have survived this time even without Jesus’ presence. Many people go through trials and tribulations who aren’t Jesus-followers, and they all seem to make it through for the most part, too. I can’t really argue against that point. Being the skeptical believer that I am, I’m even tempted to make it myself.

All I know is that in this case, in this particular life and this particular time, I would not have made it through with an intact ‘house’ if I hadn’t been holding on to the Rock. No amount of good counseling, anti-depressant pills, or ‘buck-up’ attitude would have saved me. Religious platitudes or sage advice wouldn’t have done the trick. Only the messy, stubborn determination to hold on to Jesus and keep on “doing these sayings of Mine” got me through. Worshipping when I didn’t feel like worshipping. Praying when I didn’t feel prayerful. Giving thanks when I didn’t feel thankful. Being a father when I felt like holing up and escaping to another world. Choosing to forgive (and ask for forgiveness from) my wife when condemnation was the easier, more tempting path.

Was I perfect in this? No. Of course not. But in making a conscious effort to lean into the storm and use Jesus as my foundation from which to stand, I found power and fortitude to endure. And sometimes, simply enduring and making it through is the biggest victory of all. I don’t say any of that to boast about my spiritual maturity. On the contrary, it’s rather sad that it’s taken me this long to trust in Jesus in such a real-world, visceral nuts-and-bolts kind of way. No, if there’s any boasting to be done here, it’s to boast with Paul about my weakness, because that’s when God’s power truly becomes known.

I think that in every man’s life there comes at least one time where the rubber meets the road, and he will stand or fall based on what he built his house upon. Every woman’s too. You’ve either got the Rock, the Sustainer and the Redeemer, or you’ve got an imitation.

An imitation who’s foundation is sand.

The following lyrics are from a favorite of mine. On its own it’s a great song that expresses a mature view of one’s relationship with God, the kind of relationship that Screwtape was so fearful of. The real power of this song, however, is revealed when the follower of Jesus is still able to sing these words, and mean them, when the dark times become a present reality, not a theoretical maybe. Build your house on the rock and you’ll be able to. It won’t be easy, oh Lord no, but you will be able.

Blessed be your name when the Sun’s shining down on me.
When the world’s all as it should be,
blessed be your name.
Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering.
Though there’s pain in the offering,
blessed be your name.
Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say:
Blessed be the name of the Lord;
Blessed be your name, Jesus.
Blessed be the name of the Lord;
Blessed be your glorious Name.
You give and take away.
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say:
Lord, blessed be Your Name.

Blessed Be Your Name
(Credit: Matt Redman, Beth Redman)
So if you’re going through hard times right now, take some time to examine your foundation. Is it built on rock, or sand? If you see bedrock down there, then I promise you—well actually Jesus promises you—that you will not fall.

You may not be able to see how right now—after all, it can be really hard to see through roaring winds and rains--but you WILL make it through the storm. If you commit to just keep doing your life with Jesus, even when every trace of Him seems to have vanished, then when the storm passes on (as it will) you will have scored a mighty victory against the Enemy and for yourself. You may not be healthier at the end of it. You may not be wealthier at the end of it. Heck, if your storm involves finances, you may in fact lose your physical house at the end of it.

But your TRUE house will stand.

--Jeremy
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not it's falsity.


~~So if you enjoy the blog, fear not! It has not been abandoned. In fact, in the last few weeks I’ve been starting an outline for a new set of posts. Bear with me though; I’m starting a new job on Monday and so I’ll be devoting most of my energy and willpower towards that in the near future. Could be a few weeks before I post again.

5 comments:

  1. It's interesting that you should mention that song; I've been reading in Job lately... I think the song sums it up quite perfectly: Choosing to praise -- to obey God -- in the midst of the storm, no matter how we feel. A friend reminded me of this truth: It's always darkest before the dawn; the sun will shine again. At the end of every tunnel there is light. Likewise, there is an end to every storm, thank God. I think I've seen the end of mine... at least for now. Things are not as perfect as I'd like them to be; but the Lord has really been sending comfort and encouragement into my life, and I am so thankful for it. I feel as though I'm slowly building my damaged house back up, so that when the storm comes around again I'll be ready for it. Thanks for posting on this, Skeppy; I needed that reminder. :D

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  2. Wow! Jeremy this is so encouraging and powerful! I know this sounds silly coming from a little sister but I am so proud of you. Thanks for being honest and sharing your heart, it really helps the rest of us fight through our storm too. Love you :)

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  3. nice and honest sharing, Jeremy. i really respect that. How's Your new job? do you like it?

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  4. Cool! I still remember this story, "The wise and the foolish men", in my Sunday school class. Truly, we can get valuable lessons and wisdom from the story. We can still smile even in the midst of the storm knowing that their is a rainbow after it. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  5. This is one of the best post I've ever read. Spiritually, we need to Be strong also. So that in times of temptation, We can stand firmly on it. Some people are so numb with this kind of blog because they take it as boring topic. But for me it is very nice. The encouragement and the message of the verse is very good. I hope that anyone who can read this post can have some realization with their self. kudos to you! I'm looking forward for more post coming from you...

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