The Word in the Wings

The Word in the Wings  > Oikia: when the storms come…

Oikia: when the storms come...

By: AUDREY HAMMITT

You’ve probably said or heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” This phrase is often used to illustrate that when something hard happens in life, there are bound to be more hard things that follow it. In our company Bible studies for our children’s ballet Oikia, we looked at Matthew 7, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders. He says in verses 24-27,

 

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!”

 

I was struck by the imagery of the falling rain, the rising floods, and the blowing and beating winds in verse 25. Putting all these weather elements together formed the picture in my head of the house being pummeled from every direction–from above, from below, and from all sides. I’d like to think this was Jesus’ take on “When it rains, it pours,” as there is no “If the rain falls, the floods come, etc.” but more of a “when” the rains come, and that those storms in life surround us. In our Oikia ballet, blue and white fabric fans are used to show the waters and winds– some billowing high, some low, and some swirling around the houses. In the ballet, four dancers are construction workers who perform tests with these storm elements on both of the houses to see if they will withstand them. The house Naomi’s character of the foolish builder builds on the sandy beach quickly falls over, despite any efforts to rebuild the house. Thus, that house fails the construction test and receives a thumbs down sign. However, the house my character builds on the rocky mountain is unshaken by the wind and water tests, resulting in great joy and satisfaction that my house remains standing.

So what keeps the wise builder’s house from falling? Jesus tells this parable after several others, such as those that describe how “A tree will be known by its fruit” (Matt. 7:15-20) and to “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5). One common theme between these parables is personal obedience. The wise builder can be compared to a tree bearing good fruit as well as someone who humbles themself (removing the log in their eye) before helping others. While both the wise and foolish builder both hear the words of God, only the wise builder acts on them, or obeys them.

A parallel passage of this parable is in Luke 6:46-49:

 

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”

 

This rendition of Jesus’ parable highlights some additional differences between the builders. One difference is the phrase, “dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock,” which depicts the time, effort, and unseen yet necessary importance for a house to be built upon a deep foundation of solid rock. In our ballet, you could conclude that my character thought logically about where it would be most secure to build her house. In contrast, the foolish builder decides to not put in the time and effort to build her house upon a firm foundation. However, the foundation or lack thereof are not clearly seen from an external point of view. If you placed both completely built houses side by side (and if they had the same exterior design), they would look exactly the same. In the same way, two people walking similar paths in life may appear equally stable. However, only when the storms come do the houses, or lives, of each person get tested and prove if that person is secure because they walk with Jesus, or shaken because they lacked a foundation on Him.

A person may trust in appearances, other people, power, health, or many other things, but none of them will sustain him or her through the storms and troubles of life. Only God is worth trusting in. Jeremiah 17:7-8 echoes the lifelong and eternal difference trusting in God makes:

 

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,

    sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

    and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

 

A foundation is to a house as roots are to a tree. What we dig our roots into and build our life upon shapes how we experience the trials of life. Some ways of receiving nourishment in our Christian walk include reading and memorizing Scripture, communing with fellow believers, praying, and serving others. Living a life of love toward God and others is our way of growing deep roots into His love and producing life-giving fruit for us to enjoy. In Oikia, my character’s house built on the rock withstands the storm tests, thus enabling me to invite Naomi’s character to find shelter with me. Likewise, as Christians we get to share the abundant life and hope we have in Christ with others. This way, they can learn what a good idea it is to build one’s life on Jesus.

My exquisite mother was just diagnosed with brain cancer, so I am now only beginning to truly see how reliable the Rock of Ages and His Word are and how nothing else deserves our utmost hope and dependence. She was the person I would go to when the rains fell, the floods rose, and the winds of my circumstances would beat upon my life. However, now that she is the one facing this trial head-on, I must look all the more to the Lord, Who has control over the entire situation. I have a deeply rooted hope and assurance that God will carry my mom, my family, and me through this. Jesus has been my faithful listener, companion, and provider of the daily grace to make it through each moment. It comforts me that the Lord is not merely a cleanup crew that arrives once the storms pass; He is intimately holding us up so that we may remain standing through it all. So, when the person you look to is not around or able to help in the ways they used to, please know that God is there and constantly working. I can only imagine how the disciples felt when Jesus was crucified – the one they looked to for life was arrested, beaten, and hung on a cross. How lonely that Saturday must have felt; but God was still with them and proved His power and presence by Jesus’ resurrection. No grave is too sealed, burden too heavy, storm too strong to prevent God’s resurrection power from “bursting forth in glorious day,” as sung in Stuart Townsend and Kieth Getty’s “In Christ Alone (2001).”

 

If I may, I propose a new saying: “When it rains, stand on Jesus, and when it pours, God upholds us.” It may or may not catch on, but I pray you are encouraged that whatever mountain, valley, or hurricane you are walking through, Christ will hold you fast. His words to us speak of the reality of our struggles; but more importantly, they reveal the reality of His peace within them and hope through them:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

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Scripture quotations in this post are from the New Revised Standard Version, except where otherwise noted.

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