Storm Warnings - Matthew 7:24-29 (Wed Night Reflection)
Now I will tell you that since I have been on Harkers Island, my phone has stayed lit up with one weather warning after another for severe thunderstorms…and with the exception of one or two that came during the night, they have failed to materialize. They head for the Island, and then as if there is a dome over us, they dissipate or go around us. One morning I was out on the front porch having my devotional time sometime before daybreak and I literally watched the storm skirt around the outside of the Island. It started off to the west, around behind the parsonage, and I watched as lightning streaks moved from west to east, moving from behind the parsonage, across the horizon in front of me, until they disappeared around the eastern side of our home.
I have grown weary of those warnings and have just about come to the point of ignoring them. Yesterday there were no warnings that came across my phone. I had come home from a day of visiting under beautiful skies. We ate a quick supper and then decided to go bike riding. Joshua got the bikes out while I changed clothes and got ready to go. We got outside and started to head off and Joshua warned us. “We’re going to get wet. It’s getting ready to rain. I’ve already felt a drop.” I looked around on the ground and saw a drop or two, I saw some grey clouds in the sky, and declared that we would be okay, and off we went. We rode through a few rain drops down to the church. Took a few moments to play our PokemonGo game I talked about last week, and then headed off to ride through the cemetery as I was going to lead them around to Old Dock Ferry Road. We had not made two turns when the bottom fell out. We tried waiting it out…it only kept picking up. We finally made our way back over to the church and tried waiting it out under the porch on the side near my office. It still kept coming down and cars and trucks were hitting puddles that created splashes higher than our bikes. I had a message on my phone come through from a member, responding to a comment earlier in the day. I asked them how long til this would blow over. They said, “maybe a couple of days.” Thankfully it didn’t and thankfully that kind soul gave us a ride back up to the parsonage. Earlier this evening, we were able to ride our bikes back up to the house. However Anita, Joshua, and I watched the skies pour forth because I ignored Joshua’s verbal warning (forgetting that when he was three or four he had the uncanny gift of calling out every storm before it happened) and God’s visual warning of the dark clouds gathering.
Jesus offered storm warnings as well. It is a very familiar story of His, and a very strong warning:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Jesus offers this warning to those who hear the sound of His voice…then, as well as now. He promised that storms are going to come. He promises that the rains are going to fall…the floods are going to come…the winds are going to blow. They are going to be on our homes…on our lives…on our faith.
The storms, therefore, shouldn’t surprise us. However, for some reason we haven’t heard Jesus and the storms do surprise us. Somewhere along the line, particularly over the last few hundred years, the idea came about that if we just give our lives over to God, our lives are going to be like a day at the beach—that is a day at the beach for folks that don’t live there. Those of us (yes I am one of the “us” now) who live here know that beach days are not always sunny days…the storms come here as well as places like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greenville, sometimes even more often. Somehow, though, some have come to think that storms don’t come for those who love Jesus…but those that feel this way have ignored what Jesus has said—including some of the other storm warnings he offers:
Luke 21:12”But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.”
John 15:20”Remember the words that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you…”
John 16:33”I have said this to you, so that in my you may have peace. IN the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
We only have to look at what happened to those who were closest to Jesus, who walked with Him every day and who faithfully testified to Him after His resurrection—arrests, jail, torture, shipwrecks, hunger, stoning, crucifixions. The faithful will experience storms.
If, as Jesus promised, God sends the rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous , what are the faithful to do? Jesus tells us how to weather the storms. Listen to his teaching and respond, act on it. It is not enough just to hear the words of Jesus, we are called to heed them and respond. If we are to survive the storms in life, we have to hear the words of Christ and respond accordingly…we have to hear His call to love God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and willingly give ourselves completely over to God. We have to hear God’s call to love our neighbor as ourselves. We have to be willing to seek God’s Kingdom and God’s Righteousness before everything else. We have to be willing to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We have to realize that the attitudes of our hearts are just as important as the actions we take. Jesus says if we do that…if we live as He has taught us, when the storms come our house, our faith, our relationship with God and with one another will stand firm and endure. If we don’t, Jesus says, then we’ve built our homes on the sand of the beach, and when the storms come, our homes, our lives, our faith, our relationship with God and one another, will easily be washed away.
My brothers and sisters…let’s head the storm warning better than I heeded it yesterday…and let us find our faith built upon the Rock.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
1) Why do we have a tendency to ignore warnings?
a. Why would anyone build their house on the sand?
2) When we hear Jesus’ warnings, how do we prepare?
3) How do hear and act on His Words?
a. What does it look like to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength?
b. What does it look like to love our neighbor as ourselves?