By Pastor Nathan Clements American Lutheran Church, La Porte City
[Jesus said,] “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 (NRSV)
I have always been in awe, and perhaps a little frightened, of the power of water. My hometown was located right next to the Rock River, and every spring the waters would rise and partly cover the state park and farm fields. While in college, I volunteered to sandbag around our community of Moorhead, MN when the Red River rose in 2006. In 2011, the camp where I served as Program Director in North Dakota flooded a foot shy of the 100-year flood level the day after staff training began. Last fall, the lower part of the parsonage’s back yard was covered by Wolf Creek. Waterways follow the path of least resistance and will go wherever necessary, almost always regardless of our intentions to direct it otherwise.
I remember singing a song in Sunday School when I was young: “The wise man built his house upon a rock; the wise man built his house upon a rock; the wise man built his house upon a rock, and the rain came a tumblin’ down. Well, the rain came down and the flood came up; the rain came down and the flood came up; the rain came down and the flood came up, and the house on the rock stood firm.”
The foolish man in this song, however, who built his house upon the sand lost everything. I remember envisioning an ominous rain cloud and houses swallowed up in water while singing this song as if it was the river flowing past our town. I also remember hoping that our home was literally built on a rock rather than sand, even though the river couldn’t possibly rise that high.
When Christ speaks of houses with and without foundations he acknowledges that floods will inevitably strike them both. A firm foundation won’t prevent the elements around it, but it will certainly affect its perseverance and fortitude in the midst of chaos. In our journeys of faith and life we will experience our own floods – times of overwhelming doubt, fear, uncertainty, grief, or anger. But, it is the foundation beneath us that will hold us firmly in place. That foundation is none other than Christ our Lord.
A favorite hymn of mine is, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” ELW #597.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sank.”
When the floods of life surround you, remember that Christ is your unmovable foundation. Hearing his words and acting upon them deepens our foundations throughout our lives. May our faithful witness also help to deepen the foundations of others around us.