How Prepared Are You For The Storm?

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I am so thankful for the sunshine today.

This has been the week of evening gusty thunderstorms, hail, tornado watches, high winds and torrential rains.

This morning I did my usual loop around the neighborhood with our two dogs. The skies were blue, the breezes delightful….and the streets were littered with branches, leaves and beautiful petals from a flowering tree. I could hear chainsaws in the distance breaking down branches that had fallen dangerously close to houses and cars. Some folks had already begun the clean up work, others walked around their properties inspecting the damage. Yes, the sun had returned, but the aftermath of the storm was still evident.

I was amazed at how some homes looked untouched while others had lawn chairs upside down and shutters hanging off the siding. It was the same storm that hit all of us. Why then, did some houses “weather” it well while others did not?

Matthew 5:45b  reads “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” 

We ALL get rained on in this life. Jesus told us to expect it. “I have told you those things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the World.” -John 16:33

We don’t get a “pass” from storms just because we follow Jesus. (If that were true I believe the whole world would choose to follow Him!)

 I do find it fascinating however, how two houses side by side, can weather the same storm….so differently. One has very little to clean up and repair. The other home may need to file a claim with their insurance company. Why is that?

How is it that two individuals, working/worshiping/living side by side, experiencing the same trial, can be facing significantly different fallout from the storm?

The storms that pound on us don’t often require a raincoat and duck boots. They might come in waves of sickness, financial struggles, conflict between individuals or difficulty finding a job. Perhaps a marriage is on the rocks or your teenager has told the world that you are an awful parent. Maybe even the dog has decided to pick a new favorite person and it’s not you!

How prepared are you for the storms that will come? Your level of preparedness will greatly impact how much you will need to clean up. Tensions rise during the storm for all of us. We often say things we don’t really mean or act out harshly. Some of the clean up requires us asking for forgiveness…and there are no guarantees that folks will “just move on like you never acted that way.” When we find ourselves panicking, we make impulsive decisions that we later really really regret. There is always a cost involved.

At the end of the sermon on the mount Jesus describes two men, two builders.

Let’s first take a look at Matthew 7:21-23 to see how Jesus sets up this parable.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Two individuals say they are followers of Jesus. Jesus makes it clear: only the one who does the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven. He calls the other one and evildoer, in spite of their list of things they say they had done “in Your name”.

So what is the difference? Being prepared to enter the kingdom of God depends on your willingness AND your follow through on obeying what the Father has told you to do. Obedience is a non-negotiable way of being prepared.

Matthew 7:24-27

Two Builders, Two Houses, One Storm….Two Dramatic Aftermaths

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

There were two builders who built homes but chose different foundations. One chose to build on the sand and one chose the rock. The same rain fell down from above, the same floods rose up from below and the same winds blew in from the sides. The house on the sand collapsed however, the house on the rock stood fast.

Jesus made it clear, again, how these men differed from one another.

It revolved around obedience.

The man who heard the instruction of Jesus and followed that instruction…Jesus called wise.

The man who heard the instructions of Jesus but still chose to do things his own way…Jesus called him foolish.

Both had heard the same wisdom from Jesus but one chose to ignore instruction…and the impact was devastating.

One man’s house failed him when he needed it most…when it was too late to fix a foundation. The other man likely sat inside sipping tea by the fireplace, assured that his foundation would not disappoint.

You really don’t know how dangerous it is to live your life, your own way, by your own agendas/belief systems and perspectives…until a storm comes. The sandy ground feels hard enough to support you…until it is too saturated and cannot bear the shifting any longer.

Take a look at this picture…A6095AF6-F0F0-4108-B5FC-86BF3C03692F

Erosion is the slow process of a foundation of sand/dirt….sliding away…one storm at a time. It’s easy to miss unless you are measuring changes regularly. “I think it looks fine,” you may say. However,  it’s only a matter of time.

I think that folks who grew up in a church going family are at the greatest risk of living life on an eroding foundation. You likely heard the Bible stories, went to Christian camps, perhaps even sang in the kids’ choir or went on a missions trip. Those experiences are all good…hear me out…but they are NOT what make a foundation on the rock. Remember the two men Jesus highlighted? One listed all the “spiritual” acts they were doing and Jesus called them an evildoers. Unless you, personally, embrace Jesus as your Savior AND you obey His commands,  you are building on sand and you are  not prepared for the storms.

Salvation is only through a personal decision to follow Jesus’s instructions. He is THE rock. We need to take this further however. Our lives….Need to be obedient to Jesus.

STAYING on the rock foundation requires me to daily evaluate my life. Am I not only hearing what Jesus is saying to me…but am I obeying Him?

All parts “of my house” need to stay on the rock:

My safe-my choices with my finances

My stereo speakers-how I speak to my family members

Filing Cabinet- Do I speak truth…or do I fudge things some (a nice way of not saying we lied)

TV- Are the things I watch and listen to make Jesus celebrate or cringe?

My bed-Am I honoring my vows in action as well as in my mind?

The kitchen counter-How am I taking care of my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Here’s the deal:

We are all experiencing storms in life. We all will require to do some clean up. Let’s really search our hearts, our priorities…our lives and ask the Holy Spirit to  highlight where we have sand under us. It’s far better to address these issues before the storm comes and it’s too late.

Let’s be like the wise man.

He built on the rock…and he stayed on the rock!

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