Rock, Sand, and Storms
Oftentimes what lies beneath is fundamental, for it determines the final outcome of the visible structure standing on top of it. I think of the roots that support the life of plants and trees; I think of the foundation that undergirds the construction of houses and buildings.
Jesus tells a story of two men who built two houses, one upon the rock, and the other upon the sand. One man was wise, the other was foolish. If the teaching we draw from this story is that the difference between these two men and two houses is revealed when the storms of trials come, the lesson would have little value, for it would have been too late to do anything about it.
But Christ’s purpose in telling the story is to enable us to detect the fundamental differences between two principles of living, so that we may be able to safeguard ourselves against the consequences of a false grounding, while there is still time. Hence, the decisions and actions enacted at the very beginning are crucial to eventual outcomes. It is said that at the outset, the wise man dug deep before building his house, whereas the foolish man did not take the trouble to lay a foundation.
Let us consider the particular outlook of the man who built his house upon the sand: (1)
First, he was impatient, in a hurry, compelled to take short cuts to achieve quick results.
Second, because he was impatient, he did not take time to listen to instruction, in this case, to the principles involved in constructing a house. He considered it unnecessary, and deemed his ideas better than established methods.
Third, he possessed a mentality of not thinking things through, of not considering possibilities and eventualities. He wanted a beautiful house in a particular location, and put it up quickly on the sand, without considering the environmental hazards that could topple the house down.
Indeed when the winds and the rains and the floods came, the house built upon the rock stood firm, but the house upon the sand fell, and great was its fall.
Note that this story does not stand by itself: it is sobering to recognize that Christ relates it to how people handle his teachings. A house can be thought of as one’s life structure, and all of its related external outgrowths. Christ claims that putting his teachings into practice is like digging deep and building a sure foundation to enable us to withstand the storms of life.
And Christ likens one who simply hears his words and does not do them, to the man who built his house upon the sand, with a stern prediction of a great fall, when the storms of life arrive.
“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 7:24-27, New King James Version
***(1) Reference on the characteristics of the foolish man: Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Connecticut, Martino Publishing, 2011, pp. 298-299
***Photography by Dmitri Moronov