by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa
One morning this spring as I was taking our seven-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Monica, to school, it was raining lightly. Monica said, "Boy, it's really raining cats and dogs!"
"No, sweetheart," I said jokingly, "it's not raining that hard, it's only raining gerbils and hamsters."
A few minutes later, it began raining harder. Monica said, "Now it's raining cats and dogs and horses and tyrannosaurus rexes and sperm whales!"
"Into each life some rain must fall," it is said. "Some days must be dark and dreary." ("The Rainy Day," Longfellow). Sometimes the rain takes the form of gerbils and hamsters, and sometimes it takes the form of horses, tyrannosauruses and sperm whales. In each case, the test is how we respond to the rain. Not long ago, following a storm, our neighborhood was without electricity for forty-four hours, nearly two days. While the absence of electricity was an inconvenience, with spoiled food and frayed nerves, less than a dozen blocks from us, large trees had been uprooted. We were truly fortunate, compared to some of the people living in our area. And the storm had brought mild weather with it, so that the absence of air conditioning was bearable.
Recently, I was talking to my coworker, Jerry, who is not a Christian. Lately, we've been experiencing some unsettling times at work. I told him that one of the advantages of having a Christian faith is that it enables a believer to withstand troubling situations by providing a "foundation" when life's storms come. I told him about the parable of the two men who had built houses, one on rock and one on sand (Matt. 7:24-28). When the rains and storms came, the house that was built on rock stood firm while the house that was built on sand collapsed when its foundation was washed from under it.
Of course, that doesn't mean we don't complain sometimes. The firmest foundation cannot prevent the rain. Even Paul complained occasionally (2 Cor. 12:7-9). And yet, he was able to say, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38-39 NIV). Some of us, myself included, are likely to say, "Blessings, Lord! It's supposed to be 'Showers of Blessings,' not rain! Where are the blessings?" Just because "Some days must be dark and dreary," that doesn't mean we will necessarily appreciate the darkness and dreariness. But in our darkness and dreariness, God is present with us, and God's presence makes the circumstances endurable; and when the brightness and exhilaration of God's blessings comes, we can appreciate it all the more: "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men," (Psa. 107:13-15 NIV).
There are those around us, like my coworker Jerry, who do not have the advantage of our foundation of faith, who are being blown about by the winds and rain of life. Without a firm foundation, their "houses" are in danger of collapsing. We can show them how to build their lives on a new, firmer footing, one that will withstand whatever storms life can send their way.
"'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.'" (Matt. 7:24-28 NIV).