We were at our beach house on Galveston Island a few years ago when a tornado passed over Jamaica Beach. Our house shook; the windows rattled; and hail battered the walls like bullets. We kept reminding ourselves that the house survived Hurricane Ike. It would surely survive this.
Galveston is familiar with storms. The historic Storm of 1900 virtually destroyed the city and killed 6,000 people. Hurricane Ike raked the island in 2008. The F-1 tornado that passed over Jamaica Beach won’t even appear as a blip on the screen.
Beach houses on the island are built for storms. We know that years may pass, maybe decades, perhaps a century, but the wind, rain, hail and floods will come. We must build for it and we must expect it. In Jamaica Beach every house is at least 10-feet off the ground built on pilings driven as many feet, or more, beneath the surface to anchor the house on solid soil.
In the same way, we must prepare ourselves for the storms that can devastate our personal lives. Loved ones will die. We will grow old, battle illness, suffer a tragic accident or fall victim to violence. We’re all mortal.
Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount with a parable about houses built upon sand and rock. (He didn’t include anything about houses built upon pilings. But I guess poles sunk 10- to 20-feet into the ground are as strong as foundations built on rock. Our house is still standing and we’re still dry.)
Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
We cannot prepare for the storms after they hit. It’s too late. Preparations must be made months and years ahead. The storm only reveals the foundation that has already been built. In the same way, the faith that will carry us throughout life and beyond death is a faith that must be nurtured and established before the trial comes. This is why Bible study, prayer and Christian fellowship are so important day-by-day and week-by-week. The foundation we build today will sustain us tomorrow.