Imagine you want to build a house.
You wander the land trying to find the ideal location to call home. You will need water, fertile soil and plenty of space to grow crops. You keep wandering until you find a valley which seems ideal; there is a river and plenty of flat land in which to develop. But your eyes are drawn to a high rocky outcrop that sticks out above the river. You climb the outcrop with difficulty, but once you are at the top you decide that is where you will build.
The work is hard and long; digging the foundations into the rock wrecks your back and arms, drenching you in sweat. Once that is done, you have to collect the materials you need… down in the valley. Every trip is agony, tiring and frustrating. Only when all the materials have been collected, can you begin building, brick by brick. You strain to lift the logs and stone into place, your muscles screaming in resistance. Finally, after several days, you have finished your house. It is small and a little crooked in places, but it’s home.
Now let’s step back and imagine the same scenario. You find the valley with the river and the land, but instead of using the rock, you decide to build close to river, down in the soft riverbank sand. You think this makes sense; it’s really close to all the things you will need, and besides, why make a lot of unnecessary effort?
Building is quick and easy. Your tools easily break through the soft sand and the foundations are finished in no time. Collecting the resources is easy as everything can be rolled down the slopes towards your new house. Finally, you step back and admire your handiwork. Your house is sprawling and elaborate, and all with minimal effort on your part. You sit down by your bay window overlooking the river, and in the distance, you see the other version of you, covered in sweat and burned from the sun, still breaking in the foundation. You smile to yourself; if only they had had your foresight and cunning, they could have been lounging in the shade with a cold beer, but instead they have hit their foot with the pick axe for the 5th time! And when their house is finished, you scoff at it’s tiny space, it’s crude design and crooked doorframe. Your house, with its many rooms and chic design is far better than that crap shack!
But one day, a small, white cloud appears over the valley. The small cloud begins to expand and turn violent until the entire sky is a raging sea of grey and black. As a fork of lightning splits the sky, heavy drops of rain hammer your roof. The river, rising due to the increased water flow, begins to break its banks. The sand absorbs some of the water until it can’t hold it any longer. You realise the west wing of your house begins to sink. You run in to find your dining room furniture floating past you. You run into the bathroom and just manage to climb into your bathtub before the river breaks the walls and sweeps your house away. Nothing is left standing. As you float in your bathtub, wondering where you went wrong, you look up and see the other you, sitting safely and snugly in their little house, reading a book as the rain batters the windows, but quite protected from the storm outside.
One of the first stories a young child learns in Sunday school is the parable of the wise and foolish builders. Jesus uses this parable to describe to his followers how to build their lives. God is a rock and everything else is sand. Although building your life on God is hard, when the bad times come, your strong foundation with God will keep you standing. This is contrasted with a foolish builder who chooses to build his life on anything that isn’t God. Although this is easier, when the bad times come, these things cannot support your weight and you collapse.
But here is an interesting point; what if you took the opposite point of the story? What if you chose to follow the sand builder, and build your life on unsturdy foundations? What if you built a faith that couldn’t last?
The idea for this series came about three years ago when I saw a video by Youtuber CGP Grey called “7 ways to maximise misery”. https://youtu.be/LO1mTELoj6o
Based off of a new self help book, the idea of the video is that happiness is really difficult and vague, so it is conversely easier to work out how to live the most miserable life possible. Suggestions in the video and book involved things like avoiding all exercise, having an irregular sleeping pattern, and maximising your time in front of screens. So I thought, could the same principle be applied to your faith? I have found it difficult to build a strong faith over the years. It takes a lot of work. The path to bad faith seems so much easier both to identify and also to accomplish.
So this series is about walking the road towards Jesus and God but with a faith that will make it far more likely you will not make it to journeys end. Are you ready? Let’s begin.