“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Each year we head to the mountains of North Carolina to pick apples. The trees are healthy, and the apples are gorgeous. The good fruit from those trees provides applesauce throughout the winter. If branches on the trees are found to be diseased, they are cut off and burned. The owners of the orchards know that good trees produce good fruit. Last year I had the privilege to volunteer at a local vineyard. I can promise you that we never went searching the brambles in the nearby woods to find grapes. All the grapes were firmly attached to healthy grapevines.
Jesus used an example easy to understand. Adding to the parable is the fact that fig trees and grapevines were a symbol of the Hebrew people. All his listeners would likely believe themselves to be part of a strong grapevine and fig tree. But when we truly examine our hearts we find diseased branches that need to be cast into the fire. Any bad behavior in our life - gossip, lying, hate, evil words - can probably be traced back to sins of the heart.
Jesus further explains with another parable. As a mom I instantly think of the story of The 3 Little Pigs. The oldest brother pig was the only pig to put real time and energy into building his house, and his was the only house spared when evil came in the form of a wolf. In Jesus' story the man who built his house quickly and cheaply saw his house destroyed when the torrents came. The man who had laid a strong foundation was safe from the exact same storm.
We lay a spiritual foundation in our life through disciplines such as prayer and Bible study. We build strong foundations through growing a network of friends and family who believe in God and encourage our faith. When the storms of life come, the strength of our foundation is revealed. You cannot wait until the storms begin to decide to lay the foundation on the rock. It's too late to brick up your house when the wolf is at the door. We must practice the teachings of Jesus long before the first raindrops fall.
I saw this put into practice when my Daddy died last year after a three year battle with cancer. Although we were all heartbroken, the faith exhibited by my family - especially my mom and granddaddy - showed me what it means to have a strong foundation. The storms of life raged, but their faith was firm. Before my eyes I saw proof of Psalm 62:6 - He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.