“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
~ Luke 6:46 - 49
Throughout my life I have worked on many home improvement projects, landscaped lawns, replaced a wide variety of appliances, and have painted more rooms than I can even begin to number. It is something I enjoy doing. So, when I was asked to join a mission trip to help people who had just been flooded in Kentucky years ago when the Ohio River crossed over a levy, I was eager to go and help. Little did I realize what I was about to encounter.
What most people don't realize is that when a river floods, it takes all kinds of things with it!
While I was expecting to be tearing out sheet rock, mopping up water, and helping to pile belongings in a trash container I didn't even start to consider mud, dead fish, limbs, oh, and a few snakes!
One of the volunteers I was with the first day was helping to move a freezer from someone's home and thought it would be a good idea to empty the contents. OH MY GOODNESS!
The freezer door was hardly even open when everyone helping went running! The freezer had been full of meat prior to the flood. Following the flood, no electricity for nearly a week, and now full of river water as well, you can begin to imagine the scene and the SMELL!
Everything that we seemed to encounter was devastating for the families and community. It made me realize just what water was capable of doing. Each time now, when I think of this passage from Luke, I am once again back in that little community, and those images literally flood my mind.
For some families, this was not the first time their home had been flooded. One home that had been in the same location for over 100 years actually had water marks preserved from where the river had flooded the home nine times now.
I don't always understand why people decide to remain, when they realize that they may very well flood again, but they do. I can remember the woman who lived in the home, who was quite elderly and had actually been born in the house saying, "this is where I have always lived."
Putting down roots is important for many of us. Creating a firm foundation for not just our life, but so much more, provides for strength, consistency, and a better understanding of who we are.
Christ reminds us that we are to build a solid foundation. It's as if he is reminding us to know who we are. To be strong in our faith. It's not that he is telling us "if" the river rises, but "when" the flood waters come, you will be able to withstand the flood.
I have seen this happen, not just in my own life, but in the lives of others. As a chaplain, I have been called to visit families falling apart when bad news is shared. Their foundation was literally built on sand, and had been washed away by this experience. Not knowing where to turn, or where to find comfort, strength or hope.
While we don't know when the flood will occur in our life, we can be ready. The preparation begins with each new day. Digging deeper, discovering your own bedrock, and then figuring out who you are, are all important parts of establishing your foundation that your life can be built upon.
How firm is your foundation?
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, help me to prepare each day to encounter the water when it begins to rise! Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.