Years ago, traveling preachers would come to town, pitch a large tent, preach the gospel nightly for about a week, then move on. People would come from miles around to hear God’s word expounded. In larger cities, such as St. Louis where I grew up in the early ’60s, they would set up on a vacant lot near a hub of activity. Whenever I hear Neil Diamond’s song Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, childhood memories of mom hauling us to these revival meetings come to mind.
My dad believed in God, but wasn’t what you would call a church-going man in those days, so he only came with us once. Unfortunately, there had been a bad storm the night before, resulting in some tent damage. As we nestled into the back row, the enthusiastic preacher was blaming this mishap on Satan and soon had everyone standing, pointing to the holes in the top of the tent and shouting, "I hate the devil. I hate the devil." Everyone except my father, that is, who slipped our family out quietly and informed us that a preacher who didn’t have the sense to know God is the one who allowed the rain to fall isn’t one he wanted to listen to.
Dad taught me that while it may be convenient to blame our storms of life on the devil, God is the one ultimately in control. He said, "God is good, but it rains on everyone. Sometimes God stops the rain and sometimes he doesn’t."
Jesus illustrated this with a parable about a foolish man and a wise man who each built a house (Luke 6:46-49). The foolish man built his house on a shaky foundation and the wise man built on a solid foundation. Then the rains came.
Many Christians feel that if they are nice to others and follow biblical principles, they will escape the rain. Oh no, my friend. The thunder will roar and the lightning will strike. It will rain on everyone: the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the just, the unjust, the atheist and the Christian. No one escapes the rain.
In the parable, it rained on both the foolish man’s house and the wise man’s house. But the foolish man’s house was wiped out, and the wise man’s was not, because he built his house on a solid foundation.
Spiritually speaking, the house represents our lives, and that rock-solid foundation is Jesus Christ. An unshakable foundation can be laid daily by believing Christ, walking with him, talking with him, and trusting him. Those with a shaky foundation cut corners, play the angles, and are self-sufficient. When the storms of life come — and they do come — we rely on whom we have grown accustomed to relying on. May that be Christ. As the saying goes, sometimes he calms the storm; sometimes he lets the storm rage and he calms us.
By Barbara Dahlgren