Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Foundation on Rock

Summary of a Bible Study
 
Let us imagine this situation. You get a transfer to a new place, and you go there and make arrangements to settle down there. You find a house to rent. You see two similar houses side by side. Both look beautiful and convenient. One is occupied, and so you like to rent the other one. You agree to rent it out with its owner, and you return promising to get back in a week. During this one week something unexpected happened. There was a very bad hurricane with extremely powerful winds and a very heavy rainfall. Trees fell, houses collapsed, and vehicles were swept away. It took several weeks for life to get back to normal. You return to your new place of work, and you go to the house that you were planning to rent. But to your surprise, you don't see a house there. The other house, which was occupied, is still there. You go there and inquire about the house that was there, and they say that it was swept away by the hurricane. Your curiosity mounts. You ask, "Well then, how was your house spared?" They patiently explain to you how their house was constructed differently. They knew that such hurricanes would come, and they wanted their house to withstand them. So they made sure it had a firm foundation before building the house up. They dug the ground deep until they saw rock. Then they built a foundation starting from the rock. The hurricane swept away all the sand from around the house, but the house stayed there right on the firm foundation. The other house was made without a firm foundation. They did not take the possibility of hurricanes seriously. They dug a little bit and placed a superficial foundation right on the sand. The hurricane swept away the sand from around and underneath, and the house was swept away along with it. 
 
This story sounds familiar, right? Actually this is a very old story told by none other than Jesus Christ.
 "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. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Mat. 7: 24-27.
 
A house is the life we build up. A hurricane is any kind of difficulties that can challenge our very existence. Do we want our life to withstand the hurricanes, or be swept away by them? We have the choice to build our life upon the underlying bed of rock or on superficial sand. There are different kinds of sand. Our wealth, comforts, health, our loved ones, and our reputation are some of them. All of these are good as long as they are placed around our life. But none of them can take the place of the foundation because we lose our life if we lose them. If none of them can take the place of our foundation, then what do we choose as our firm foundation? We choose God. We need to dig deep to discover God, and then build up a foundation on God. No matter how powerful a hurricane is, God cannot be swept away, and if our life is founded on God, it stays safe.
 
Health, wealth, comforts, loved ones, and our reputation are all good, and all people need them. We can have all of these to provide extra support to our life and to decorate our life. But none of them can take the place of foundation. Having faith or trust in God means having our foundation in God. With our trust in God, our life needs to be directed by God's will. Our life needs to be driven by God's purpose. We may receive health, wealth, comforts, loved ones and reputation gratefully as God's gifts, but none of these can be the purpose of our lives. God wants us to grow to more maturity aiming the perfectness of God, and we need to bear the fruits of love, joy, and peace.
 
Job and his wife are classical prototypes of those who trust God and those who don't. They lost everything-- health, wealth, comforts, loved ones, and reputation. Job's wife suggested that they commit suicide. She had her life founded on these, and she couldn't think of a life without these. But Job didn't have any of these in his foundation; he had his life on God. Job argued that he began his life as a baby without any of these, and at the end when he leaves the world, he won't take any of these with him. So these are all optional, and they don't constitute his essential being. But his wife thought that health, wealth etc. constituted her essential being.
 
Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios tells us about his sufferings in his autobiography. When he was a child he narrowly escaped death from a snakebite. His classmates made fun of him at the age of four by calling nicknames such as yellow frog and hammerhead. In high school, he lost his mother to mental illness. Later he lost one of his brothers too. Although he passed the school final exam with third rank in the state, he was denied the opportunity to go to college. In his twenties, he had the opportunity to go to Ethiopia as a school teacher. There he caught chicken pox, with which he had to live in complete isolation for three weeks in a closed room. He used to hold a Bible class for the high school students he taught in his home, and a jealous supervisor accused him for being homosexual. He was called to the head office of the Ministry of Education, and his contract was almost going to be terminated. Because his autobiography remains unfinished, we are so unfortunate as to lose the opportunity to hear about the sufferings he had to go through during the rest of his life. He tells us that he used each of his sufferings as a stepping stone to climb higher. He became one of the most influential people in the world. He became a world leader who could influence the life of the humanity. It was his approach to his sufferings that probably helped him to climb higher and higher to such great heights.
 
The story of Job and the real life experiences of Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios should inspire us to face the challenges of life. We need to face our sufferings and misfortunes positively. Let us have our foundation on God, and grow higher and higher.

1 comment:

Ruben Jacob said...

dear john uncle,
thanks for such a wonderful article! we don't actually know things that we think we know, till we don't internalize it. just like the story of the house on rock! thanks for putting this story and its import in perspective. may your thoughts help many!
regards,
ruben