Beach waves & shifting sand
Have you ever been to the Carolina beaches? Because of the shallow shoreline, you can let the incoming waves wash over your feet. When the waves go out the sand is drawn out from under your feet causing your footing to become unstable. It’s a somewhat eerie feeling. If you’re not careful the receding sand under your feet can actually cause you to fall over.
Stepping away from those idyllic days in the sun and sand to our present world which unfortunately is COVID-19, politics, and war in Ukraine. Thinking ahead, consider that we in the US could be drug into that Ukrainian war, yet another COVID variant may come our way, the economy seems to be tanking, healthcare could significantly diminish, and there is always our failing health. A bit depressing.
What is common amongst these things is that they all represent an unwelcome change to what we know today. Each one could be represented by a wave that causes the sand to shift underneath our feet, just ready to cause us to lose our footing and fall.
On a private island off the Maine coast is a family cottage. They don’t have long sandy Carolina beaches in New England. Rather, there are rocky walls and jagged cliffs. Just down the path from that cottage is one such rock ledge called Garbage Rock. Aptly named because that is where, in years past, they took the garbage out for the seagulls to come and eat. They have waves, just like in the Carolina’s. Except those waves don’t rhythmically roll up to the sandy shore and slowly roll back out to sea. Instead, they crash against the rocky shoreline with brute force. Water showers out in every direction with each wave. When you stand on that Garbage Rock, you can feel the waves pound against it, but there is no shifting of the rock beneath your feet. It’s rock solid. It has been that way for many years with no sign of going away.
Sermon on the mount
Jesus uses similar analogies of sand and rock as a summation of His sermon on the mount. As a summation, those analogies, therefore, pertained to everything He just spoke about in that sermon.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus speaks of the solid rock
Is that what Jesus was trying to get across to us when He spoke of building your house on the solid rock so when the waves of change pound against us, our footing does not falter? I think so.
Easy to say, hard to do
So, how do we stand on that solid rock of Jesus when the waves of unwelcome changes come crashing against us? We all know the answer to that. Trust in God. Have faith. Stand firm. That’s what we are always told to do. And correctly so. Those are great things to say and how true they are, but tough to carry out when you are facing some of your life’s biggest challenges.
There seems to be a lot said about trusting in God, having faith, and standing firm. There are a myriad of verses telling us just that. They sound great but how can we actually do that? There are several real ways I might suggest. All of these have one thing in common, as well. They are real things you can see, touch, and do.
1) Remember the past
Remember how God has helped in the past. These are real things, not just something you imagined or dreamed up. We tend to forget our past. When Israel crossed over the Jordan river on dry ground, not the Red Sea but the Jordan river,Strong when Israel was really going to take their promised land this time. Joshua had them pile stones so they would not forget what God had done for them. We may not pile stones but we could jot them down or spend time remembering them. Those things happened to us. It’s a reality for you. Something not to forget.
2) Stay in the Word
The Bible is God’s words to us. Again, not some lofty thoughts of man but real words from God. Since we don’t write everything down, God did. Then gave us His notes. We call it the Bible. Going back to Joshua, God in His word to us told Joshua 4 times to be “strong and courageous.” And how was Joshua to be “strong and courageous”? Intermixed with God’s admonition to be strong and courageous God said to stay in His word.
Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Fellowship with other believers is crucial to standing firm in times of trouble. These are real flesh and blood people. Real believers who can understand the difference between complaining and sharing your challenges. Not only can they be listening ears, but they also have a past and God has worked miracles in their lives that can be an encouragement to you. We are told by Paul not to forsake our assembling ourselves together. Sure that is to praise God, but for personal encouragement as well.
These three actions won’t make those unwelcome waves of change go away, but they will certainly help you to stand firm on the rock of Jesus Christ when the waves of unwelcome change come. Stand firm my friend.