What a week – with an earthquake on the West Coast and Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc up the East Coast! Last week we received news at the squash club of the tragic death of a popular past member in a diving accident. Life is so very fragile; it’s easy to become overwhelmed or live in a state of constant anxiety or fear, worrying about ‘what might happen….”
It’s amazing to me that God would choose the brutal Roman occupation of Israel as the context and environment into which Jesus would be born. Circumstances were volatile with uprisings, unbelievable human atrocities, and not much reason for hope anywhere; particularly if you weren’t Roman. If I’d been Jesus I may have opted for California or a foster dad working near an Australian beach where I could hang out before embarking on my mission to save the world. But God is so unlike us – which is an exceedingly good truth to hold onto.
We cannot help see life from the perspective of where we live and it’s understandable that the earth shaking and strong winds blowing causes some anxiety. I think Jesus was hinting at such a reality when he told the parable about the wise and foolish men (and women). The one group built houses, lives, and their places to live on sand and were washed away when the floods and earthquakes hit town. The others built their lives and homes on solid rock and were able to ride out the storms in safety. The funny thing was that Jesus was trying to prize open our hearts and minds to enable us catch a glimpse of life from a totally different place than what we’re accustomed to.
In His world building a house on rock is a statement of faith not a literal directive (although it has practical wisdom as well). When Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah he was strongly affirmed by Jesus as having identified the most solid foundation possible – for an individual and for the Church. That foundation is rooted in trusting God our Father with our lives and allowing Him to be our strong and mighty fortress, our shield, and our source of identity and security. Jesus was the first to demonstrate how living from such truth and revelation impacted life on earth. In the midst of Roman threats and power politics Jesus breathed peace and a sense of self-assurance that triggered earthquakes and hurricanes of a different kind; it also cost Him life on earth.
It’s usually at funerals we quote a passage from John about Jesus going to prepare a place for us… “in my Father’s house are many rooms,” (John 14:2). If you read between the lines He’s telling us that there’s a room with each of our names on the door – a place for us. I’ve usually interpreted that place as only being accessed when I die. Now I’m hearing the Lord say that it’s set aside for us right now and we can access ‘stuff in there/our inheritance’ even while on earth.
It’s not as crazy as it may first seem. Jesus lived from heaven to earth, assured of His Father’s love – daily hearing His voice to guide and release His Spirit to heal. He often said that His kingdom was not of this world and that even if His body was killed it would be raised up to life within three days. Because He trusted His life in His Father’s hands He could face the storms of life on earth with courage and confidence, ever hopeful.
“Sounds great theory,” you may be thinking, “Try living in my world, maybe Jesus could find peace but where I am it’s elusive and almost impossible to hang onto.”
The secret to withstanding the chaos of storms in our circumstances and personal lives is found in our relationship with Jesus rather than our ability to design and build more elaborate shelters and escape routes.
When I nearly drowned in a rip-out current off the South African coast I felt the panic rise as I cried out to God,”Is this it, how I’m to end my life?” The answer came in a whisper within, “Keep calm, conserve your breath, stay afloat and rescue is on its way.” I treaded water for about five minutes before a surfer sliced through the waves and within another few minutes we were back on solid ground. The experience has remained with me as an example of trusting in another when my strength and capacity to overcome my circumstances is not enough.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “I can do nothing by myself.”
Life on the rock is about being assured of my identity as God my Father’s beloved son or daughter. Being confident that He always has His eye on me and His ear bent toward me. He won’t always change my circumstances but He will always provide me what I need to make it through one way or another. My room in heaven is filled with resources that aren’t available on earth.
It’s like finding peace on earth manufactured in Canada fashioned from a mixture of positive thinking and education and settling for that. In my room there is peace bearing the hallmark of Jesus – which means it’s a collector’s item on earth – personally customized and unable to be forged. It is accessed by faith and released to me when I ask the Father. It’s priceless, powerful, very durable, and is stronger than any circumstance I’ll ever encounter on earth where fear or anxiety is present. The same is true for love, joy, patience, kindness, long-suffering, perseverance, forgiveness, power… My heavenly room is filled to overflowing with resources ready to be utilized anytime I choose… on earth as in heaven.
Everything I encounter on earth has a provision for me to access through Jesus made in heaven. It’s delivered invisibly at my request and the more I receive and believe the stronger it grows within me. For instance if I’m struggling with thoughts about my future I ask for faith and hope. Then I give thanks for faith that Jesus has my future in his hands and that my hope for positive outcomes is secure with him. Now all I need to do is walk in that truth day by day with Jesus and watch how it unfolds. I may need encouragement from those around me as I walk and grow – which is one of the reasons God draws us into community as we travel with Him.
The implication is that we’re to live in the midst of uncertainty and even hostility confident in the rock of God’s faithfulness, His love, His care, His provision and His presence. We hold tightly to Him and lightly to ‘things’ as we learn how to walk in peace and the assurance of His provision along the way; rejoice!