Fishers UMC Blog

Building on the Sand or Rock

In Matthew 7:24-29, we find Jesus telling the parable of the two builders. The wise builder built his house on the rock while the foolish builder built his house upon the sand. When the storms came, the house built on the rock stood firm against the winds and rain. It had a solid foundation. But the house built on the sand collapsed in ruin as its shifting foundation was washed away.

This was a parable. Jesus was not really making a point about where we should build our houses, but using that as an illustration of an important spiritual truth. He was picturing two different lifestyles, represented by the two houses. It seems though as our world becomes more and more complex, our choices are easily confused.  I think this parable is illustrated by the plight of the house above.

Below is from an article from learnnc.org.

At the time of construction, this area looked like other beachfront properties, and seemed to pose no abnormally high risk of flooding. The history of the inlet location and its proximity to this lot should have been a warning. The massive rearrangement of sand caused by the winds, waves, and storm surge of Hurricanes Bonnie and Fran resulted in a dramatic reversal of the inlet’s migration, and it came back to the spot it had occupied years earlier.

Unfortunately, that spot was now occupied by this house. Sand dredged to deepen and stabilize the newly positioned inlet was pumped under and around the house in an attempt to replace lost sand. But the steep eroded face of the new fill shows that this was not a lasting solution. At the time of this writing, the restoration efforts have ceased and the house is condemned. How long it will last is not clear.

Dirk Frankenberg, "Evidence of rising sea level: Coastal erosion and plant community changes" LEARN North Carolina, 2000. Available at http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/cede_sealevel/366

Notice in the article above, the progression:

  • At the time of construction it looked like a safe place to build.
  • The shifting of sand should have been a warning
  • The storms came
  • The solution to the problem was to pump more sand underneath
  • The new sand eroded away and restoration ceased
  • The house is now condemned

We build our lives and our children’s lives many times on the eroding sands of success as shaped by our culture.  As we build our lives on academic success, athletic achievements, financial stability, meaningful relationships,  rising careers, and the pursuit of to some degree of happiness we must proceed with caution.

My son’s friend from 4th grade planned to be a pitcher, he pitched in many tournaments, teams and through high school, when before the State Championship Season , he had to have Tommy John surgery. He received a college scholarship, transferred schools and during the summer playing in a league, he had to have a second Tommy John Surgery. He is kid of strong faith, though his dream was gone, he has a teaching degree and is planning on coaching. The shifting sands ruined his dream but his faith gave birth to a new vision, based on His faith that he has a purpose to serve a higher purpose. This week one of the children in our children’s ministry broke her arm, she is sad that she cannot play soccer and is praying the cast will come off so she can enjoy swimming this summer. This lesson was a teachable moment for this young lady as we shared a greater purpose.

I wonder though how many times we are like the people trying to save the house by pouring more sand into the foundation. We think if only I had another degree, more money, a bigger house, a better spouse, a different job. I wonder if at times we model and teach the same things to our children. Many of our values and priorities are caught and not taught.

How do we make changes in our priorities and choices in a world with so many options?  We are to seek to be excellent in all we do and to strive to be best in all situations, but we need to know that in the midst of the rising sand we need to be standing on the rock. The storms will still come, failures will still happen, life may take a change, relationships may fall apart, but with your life built on Christ there is hope.   Perhaps it is as simple as  making church, spiritual development and the study of God’s Word a priority. We need to not pour more sand in to save a condemned house but move to a house built on the rock.

Larry Crane
Director of Children's Ministries
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Messy, but worth it

For about the past 10 years, my Friday mornings have been spent with an amazing sisterhood studying God’s word. We’re not-so-creatively named Friday Morning Bible Study. Our time together is spent catching up on life, discussing our study, sharing our struggles and victories as followers of Jesus and doing life together.

We’ve studied a wide array of topics from Genesis to Revelation and a vast variety of topics concerning living as a follower of Christ. There have been some studies that weren’t really up my alley, but I stuck them out because I loved the community and relationships in that group. We have watched Beth Moore’s wardrobe evolve through the years, heard new voices like Priscilla Shirer and Kelly Minter, listened to old guys who speak Truth, and searched the scriptures for guidance in following our Savior.

Through the years, the group has changed. Some women come and go depending on their schedule or the study. Some dear women have moved away with their families. Some drop in for a study that sounds intriguing. There’s a mix of women who attend Fishers UMC and who do not. Anyone is welcome.

One blessing about this group has been the ability to be real. It’s sometimes hard for someone on church staff to be open and honest in groups. There are some conversations where I excuse myself for more coffee or step in to clarify if needed. I’ve felt safe there. Except for one season.

For reasons beyond my understanding, the small group code of not sharing what is said was broken. Someone took a conversation as part of the small group—my own opinion and understanding and misrepresented it to another party. It was painful. I felt betrayed. Because I was betrayed. A place where I thought I was safe was not safe. I had to step out of the group for a while.

Friday mornings were really hard during that time because I missed the community. Because I was unsure of who had betrayed the confidence, I could not really explain why I was taking a break. A couple of women pursued me--they sought out answers, they offered compassion and understanding, they prayed for my hurt heart. It was their reaching out and assurance of love and reminder of the need to forgive that helped me return.  They understood and provided a smaller circle of trust to help in the healing process.

It’s been almost 5 years since that happened. I was cautious for a long time. I am probably still more cautious that I was before, but I learned to trust again which is a valuable gift. I share this because I believe this is a good picture of community. The members don’t have to be constant. The study changes. The beautiful part is when the group continues to work together toward a common goal—here that is the ongoing sanctification as followers of Jesus.

Community isn’t perfect—forgiveness and healing have to be a part of it. As does trust. I am grateful for my Friday Morning Friends; those from the current community and those who have been a part of it at some point through the years. The learning experience for me was that I know I need community. I need relationships with other followers of Christ, with other believing wives, with other mamas who need support, with women who desire a deeper understanding of faith. I’m grateful for the painful experience now. It helped me to grow as a believer. It helped me understand groups. It helped me know that forgiveness is real and necessary. It helped me see my own shortcomings as a part of the body of believers. It helped me learn what a healthy community does when someone steps away.

Being a part of a small group has been instrumental for my faith development. I started out in Disciple Bible studies and a variety of Sunday school classes. I continue to be a part of a Sunday school class when being with Junior Highers doesn’t take priority. I look forward to the women on Friday mornings. I have a small group of like-minded youth workers who connect from all over the country online.

I need the community. My guess is that everyone does in some form—hoping you’ll give a small group a try if you aren’t a part of one already.  There are a lot of options. Small groups aren’t always perfect. But neither am I.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life.

Blessings,
Liz Simmonds
Director of Jr. High Student Ministries
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