I had a brief conversation with an old friend recently. These days, the friends seem older and the conversations more brief! We were remarking on the shipwrecked economy, the floundering job market, and the fishy political scene:
Friend: "How do people without faith deal with all the uncertainty?"
Me: "Quick answer: Alcohol, drugs, sex, worry, denial, violence, you name it. Or they manufacture their own faith. :>)"
Friend: "And overeating."
Most people fall into at least one of those traps, even people of "faith." In reality, all those options require faith in times of trouble and doubt. We turn to that which we trust will provide us with, if not stability, at least temporary distraction from reality or brief numbness to pain.
The Lehigh Valley has weathered a lot of storms lately. We've experienced an earthquake, hurricane, record-breaking rain, floods, financial failures, and a myriad of miseries both public and private. There is very little that is under our individual control. We can't catch the wind in our fists, wish away cancer, print our own money, or personally fire the politicians we don't like. We can, however, choose whom or what we believe will help us through our difficulties.
Have you ever stood on the beach, with the waves lapping around your toes? Remember that feeling of awkwardness as the water receded, pulling the sand from under your feet? At my age, I feel like that all the time. But I digress. Have you ever stood on a rock under the same circumstances? Your feet were rock-steady, even as the water surrounded them and tried to pull them out to sea. The difference was neither the water nor the feet--the difference was where you chose to stand.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught how to live a rock-solid life of discipleship. Among other subjects, he touched on prayer and anxiety. He finished his instruction with this:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
Jesus knew that internal and external storms would come, so he warned us that the only safe shelter is faith in, and obedience to, his words. Faith and obedience are one and the same.
Who hasn't built sand castles on the beach, only to have them erode by water, wind, or a boot from a beach bully? Not too many piers are built on the sand; they are anchored on rock to withstand the relentless power of wind and wave. Fortresses and anchor points don't hold very well when built on sand. Neither do people.
After the foam on the beer fizzles, the spark of an illicit romance turns to ashes, worry runs out of wrinkles, and human philosophies fail to answer questions, the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). God is no sand castle: "I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'" (Psalm 91:2).
Stand on the Rock of Ages when the stormy weather rages!
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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