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.
–Matthew 7:24 NIV
Vacation, 2003, was spent in Panama City Beach, FL – not surprising since my in-laws owned a condo right on the beach. You know that feeling as you’re lying in the sun, when you’re neither fully asleep nor fully awake? That was me one hot afternoon – neither dreaming nor thinking – when I slowly became aware of a “disturbance in the force.” I picked up my head enough to see some people bolting towards the water. Looking in the direction to where they were running, I saw some children sputtering some distance from shore. Small children. MY CHILDREN.
My wife had been playing with some of our kids out on a shallow sand bar when, as they walked back towards the beach, the undertow had been displacing the sand and the water became much deeper than before. Jayne quickly got underneath the children holding them above the surface, but the water was above her head. Thankfully some people got to the children to relieve my wife and allow her to bob to the surface.
Sand is a funny thing; those little grains of stone that weigh so much when they’re in a bag, are so easily carried away by a current of water, or a strong wind.
Jesus knew a thing or two about sand, and the propensity it has to dissipate under pressure. He talked about the difference between building on a foundation of sand and building on a solid rock. He compared the one who hears His words and doesn’t practice them to the man who builds on sand; eventually, whatever he is building in this life will fall. But the man who takes Jesus at His word, building his life on the Solid Rock – that man’s life will not shatter in times of hardship, trial or tribulation, because that man’s foundation (his connection point to stability) is Jesus, the ultimate source of reality.
One Sunday we were singing that old hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, coming to the refrain,
“On Christ the solid rock I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.”*
I found myself caught by this phrase and wondered, “What ‘other ground’ am I trusting in right now? What, besides Christ, might I be trying to build my life upon?”
I can identify a few “sandboxes” I’ve tried to build my life upon at various points: being good, getting straight A’s, working hard to please others, being seen as someone who serves others, having well-behaved children, and building a thriving ministry to families. And while none of those things are inherently bad, all of them are “sinking sand” if they become the object of my hope, if they become the reason my life makes sense.
Sometimes it’s not until the hardships and trials of life reveal what we’re really trusting in that we see our true reality. We want others to think well of us, so we put on the brave face, the nice face, the “spiritual” face showing that we’re really standing on sand dunes of bravado, congeniality, and piety. We want others to think we can handle any situation that comes at us, so we never reveal any “chink” in our armor, standing on the sandpit of invincibility. Anything that we put our hope in, besides Jesus, will eventually collapse. All other ground is sinking sand.
ACTION: How does your present situation (good or bad) reveal the object of your hope? What do you daydream about? What do you habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of your heart? Conversely, what are your nightmares – what do you fear? What would make your life unbearable if you lost it? What is God presently doing to invite you to stand on Jesus?
*Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less”