The House Built In The Sand

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    Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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.”

 

Imagine a beautiful beach. A private island with crystal clear water and white sand. It’s romantic, the way the sunlight plays with the waves as they splash on the shore.

There’s a girl, a wild spirit, clearly stronger than she knows, running from something you cannot see. She stops on the beach, catching her breath. There is an old tiki bar nearby, the only sign of human life anywhere on the beach. She makes her way there, enamored by the beauty of her surroundings, but still glancing in the direction she came from, fear dancing in her eyes.

The old bartender is kind to her, pouring her a drink and conversing with her as an old friend. He is wise, his face reveals a million stories of love, loss, joy, and pain. He speaks with the authority of one who has experienced the ins and outs of life in great depth. His weathered skin speaks of a life of adventure, the wrinkles around his mouth and eyes shadowing years of laughter.

The girl, lost, afraid and running with nowhere to go, seeks refuge and friendship from the old man. He offers her a spare room behind the bar, a cozy place where she can safely sleep until she knows her destination. He lends her a listening ear, and she tells him her story. He offers wise words of advice that are soothing in her pain. They walk on the beach each morning, his father-like love for her growing each day. She helps him with the bar, serving guests, diligently working in his favor, keeping up with repairs and seeking always to prosper her friends business. She saves all of her earnings to build a home, confident now that she can stop running.

A man wanders into the bar one day, seeming to be a bit lost. He catches her eye, and she knows something about him is different. The bartender recognises him immediately. He had taken a vacation to this very beach years ago as a child. The kindly old man offers him a drink, and asks about his family and how he’s been. The man only vaguely remembers the bartender from all those years ago, and is reserved at first, but quickly warms up to him.  His infectious laugh and interesting stories wear down the man’s reservations, and within the hour, they are swapping tales and talking like old friends. The bartender calls to the girl, who is busy in her work, and introduces her to the man. She is intrigued with him, but also afraid. She looks to the bartender, looking for any sign that this man should not be trusted. With a twinkle in his eye and a slight nod, he suggests she show the man some of the beauty she has discovered on the beach.

The girl is wary, but trusts the bartender. She walks the beach with the man, pointing out her discoveries, sharing her treasured sunset with him. She enjoys his company, but does not expect to see him again. Much to her surprise, he comes to the tiki bar every day, finding a way to strike up conversation with her in the midst of her busyness. He doesn’t force her to talk – he can see she is scarred and untrusting. Some days she speaks to him, some days she does not. Some days she avoids him completely, and some days he sees the wild spirit inside her as they share playful banter and laughter. Whatever her response to him, he still comes in, every day, hoping to hear her laugh, but giving her the space to do so in her own time.

The bartender joins their conversations at times, easing the girls wary mind and lending his wisdom and sense of humor to their growing friendship. She admits to the bartender one night that she has feelings for the man…he has captured her heart with his kindness, patience, and inner strength. His laugh, the way he gets excited when he is telling a story, his stubborn refusal to back down from his morals….she could talk all day about his many qualities and strengths. As he held her in his arms one evening, watching the bright pink sunset, she felt like she was home. Every brush of the shoulder, every time he entwined his fingers with hers, every soft kiss, she felt like she was home.

Afraid that her emotions may be clouding her judgement, afraid to make a mistake, she asked to bartender for his advice. Could the man be trusted? Would he break her heart? Were her feelings a lie? The bartender grabbed her by the hands, looked her in the eye, and said, “Don’t be afraid! He’s one of the good ones…give him a chance. ”

So she did.

She opened her heart to him, and they blossomed as friends and lovers. She took her earnings  from working at the bar, wanting to build a home with the man. Over a friendly dinner with the bartender one evening, they asked his advice on buying land to build their home. He told them of his son, an amazing contractor who was building a beautiful community inland.

The girl had met the bartenders son, many times. He was a friend, a kind, generous man who cared deeply about the community. He was always inviting her to join him in various activities. She loved going with him, giving anything that was needed to the people on the island.  She was inspired by him, and wished she could join him more often. He was working on a huge project now, developing a massive community that provided everything the people of the island could ever need. Beautiful homes were being built, parks, community centers, even a day care and a medical center. It would include a massive garden and an orchard, there was even talk of a small farm being included. And that was just the beginning! The passionate son of the bartender wanted no one to go hungry or homeless, and he sacrificed all of his time and money to build a safe place for everyone on the island. Many thought he was insane, but the girl knew he wasn’t.

“I wouldn’t put my house anywhere but on his land. It’s a rock solid foundation that will guarantee to hold in the weather.” He explained to the couple that storm season would be here soon, and most homes built here didn’t last through the season. His son built homes only on the rocky terrain near the base of the mountains at the center of the island.

The couple had every intention of building their home in the sons community. Especially the girl, who knew him well, and trusted him completely. They agreed that a sandy foundation was unlikely to hold against the hurricanes that pummeled the island each year. But they never made it to the community.

Excited and passionate about their love for each other, they forgot the warnings of the bartender. A plot became available for them to build on, close to the beach they loved so much, not far from the tiki bar either. It was late in the hurricane season, and not a single storm had made its way to the island. They bought the plot on the beach for a great bargain, despite the bartenders continued warnings. The girl focused most of her energy on building the house, cutting her hours working with the bartender in half. She didn’t stop loving him, nor did he stop loving her. They still enjoyed deep conversations each morning and she still sought his wisdom in everything she did. Devoted as she was to him, her wild heart stubbornly insisted on building their home on the romantically beautiful beachfront.

Their finished house was beautiful. It was strong. The couple worked hard to passionately build their dream home with love and care. They would spend their lives together here. The frame was built with love and unconditional support. The floorboards carefully laid with honesty and communication. They painted the interior with laughter and joy, and covered the home with a roof of grace. It was the best, and they  believed that even with a sandy foundation, the covering of grace would shield them from the effects of a storm, should one actually hit. The bartender was happy for them, but his face grew more and more worried every time they saw him. Concerned for the man who had become like a father to her, the girl asked him what was wrong. “I’m worried about you,” he said. “A storm is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not next week, but I have lived on this island for an eternity, it seems like, and the storms always come. The home you’ve built is beautiful and has many great things. It is strong, but it will not hold up on that sandy foundation. Please listen to me, pack up a suitcase and the two of you go to my son. He can let you stay with him there, and when the season is over, you can build a new home on a proper foundation. I don’t want to lose you.”

The girl hugged the bartender and promised to do as he said. But she had spent all of her money on building this home, and wasn’t sure how they would be able to build a new one. For days she contemplated the problem, not sure how to approach her love. Would he be angry that they  had to abandon what they had built? Would he refuse to go with her? Her resources were spent, would he be able to afford the cost of rebuilding?

Before she gained the courage to talk to him, the storm hit. It came out of nowhere, the howling wind threatening to destroy everything on the island. Lightning crashed all around them, frying the power lines and leaving them in darkness. The couple clung to each other, as waves crashed over their beautiful home. Walls came down, exposing them to the elements. The floorboards they had so carefully laid came loose. The very ground underneath them began washing away in the harsh, angry water. They ran to the second floor, grabbed ahold of one of the remaining pillars of love from the home’s frame, and waited there together, under the covering of grace. The wind pulled loose every screw that had held the home together as the foundation crumbled beneath them.

They waited together in the darkness.

A seagull screeches in the distance. The sun is bright and welcoming. The clear skies seem to have forgotten the turmoil they hosted for days. The angry waters have quieted. Nature seems to be content again, like a toddler who gets distracted by a cookie in the midst of a temper tantrum. It’s atmosphere is playful and unaware of the damage it has caused.

The couple climb out from under the covering of grace, a strong roof indeed. A lone pillar of their love stands unaffected by the storm. The remainder of the house has been demolished, and the couple are badly bruised with unknown injuries still waiting to be discovered. They hold each other, taking it all in, not sure how to process what they’ve experienced. They stare, unable to move, for hours, grieving the loss of what they so carefully and lovingly built. With nothing left, where will they go? The storm stole their lives, leaving them with nothing left to build on. Their resources are gone, everything is destroyed.

The girl looks around assessing the damage on the beach. Everything is flooded. The beach is a wreck. Debris is everywhere. She looks to the tiki bar. Its is gone. She calls the bartenders name and starts running toward the demolished hut. She hears his voice strong, yet sad, ringing clearly from the road. She turns towards him, relieved that he is alive, trying to get to him as quickly as her broken body will allow.

Untouched by the storm, he explains that he was with his son, safe from the howling threats of the storm. With love and concern for the girl who has become a daughter to him, he scoops her up into his arms and carries her to a place where she can rest and heal. The last thing she remembers is his strong arms around her and his voice whispering to her that she will be ok.

She wakes, for a moment forgetting the horrific storm and her broken home. She calls out for her love, but he is not there. There is a window that faces toward the beach and she goes to it. She can see where her home used to be. Someone is knocking at the door, but she can’t seem to focus.

The bartender enters the room after knocking several times and finds the girl staring out the window, lost in thought, in deep sadness. He joins her at the window, standing in silence, grieving with her in the moment.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “I should have listened to you.”

He wraps his arms around her and tells her it will be ok. He tells her that her love is safely resting in another room, badly injured from the storm. He may recover, but it will take some time.

“What do I do now?” she asks. “Where can I go? What if he doesn’t wake up?”

She floods him with questions, panicking at the thought of losing her love, in addition to all they had built, and angry at once again finding herself with nowhere to run, no place to call home.

“Go to my son.”

The girl explains that she used up all her money, put all she had into building the home.

“He will not turn you away, he gives to all who come to him. He will provide for you.”

“But my love, I can’t leave him, what if he thinks I’ve abandoned him? What if he doesn’t recover? When he wakes, will he know where to find me? What if he doesn’t want to find me? I ignored your warnings, I knew the truth. He may not know your son and his work as well as I do, but I do know him, I do know we should have built our house on his foundation. I should have told him the truth. The beach plot was less costly, and I let myself believe it would be ok. Now I have lost everything for both of us. How do I tell him I’m sorry? How do I make up for this?”

The bartender whispers, “It’s going to be ok. Go to my son. Let him help you build a new home, this time on his foundation. Your love is in my hands. I will treat his wounds. I will give him the tools to recover. I will give him directions to find my son. If it is right for him to pursue you, my son will guide him to you. Even if he is wary of my son, know that I will keep communicating with him. I will keep leading him to build his home on that solid foundation. I will never give up on him, and I will never let him fall. You can rest in the knowledge that he is in my hands. Should he not wake, I will be with you. I will be your tower of strength. It will be painful, but you are strong, you will survive. You are not alone. And neither is he.”

 

How many of us have built a house in the sand instead of on the solid foundation of Christ? We all have. We’ve all done it our way. But God is still there. Trust him today to help you pick up the pieces. Let him grieve with you, and carry you to safety. He is in control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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