Monday, April 12, 2010

Layers Upon Layers Upon Layers

Matthew 7:24-27

The Wise and Foolish Builders
24"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. 25The 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. 26But 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. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

I had just graduated high school. My greatest dreams lay ahead of me. I could go anywhere I wanted to go, be anything I wanted to be. The possibilities were endless that summer.

So where else was there to go but to a tree farm to work out in the hot sun all the live-long summer. Every young, ambitious man’s dream. Obviously.

If you’ve never had to do manual labor for an extended period of time I suggest you try it. Apparently it builds character? Thanks for those words of wisdom, mom.

I learned many things at the blessed tree farm. Like what a man smells like who refuses to bathe. And that you can get a massive sunburn even if it’s cloudy outside. And also that if you drive a lawn mower over a PVC water pipe, that you will have created an erupting geyser in a split second.

Of all the wonderful things I learned there, I suppose the thing that most impressed me was that it’s much harder to plant a tree than you’d think. You don’t just drop the tree (with a 2-foot diameter root ball) in hole, kick some dirt in, spray it with some water and leave. The tree will die if you do that. I know. I saw them die. Not my fault of course.

To properly plant a tree you must put it in the ground and as you fill in the hole with soil, you must use a hose and continually wash in the dirt. It takes much longer than you’d think, and it is so vital that there are no air pockets around the roots. Fill in dirt. Wash it in. Repeat. Repeat. Get a blister. Repeat.

When you’re walking by a palm tree you really have no clue what the roots look like underneath and how important it is for its life that it was properly planted. You only see the surface, but the most important part of the tree is beneath the ground.

Have you ever had big, amazing, life changing moments in the presence of God? Maybe times where you’ve cried harder than you ever thought you could. Maybe the power of God was so strong you couldn’t even stand. Maybe you heard his voice so direct and so clear. Maybe you felt his love deeper than anything ever before. Maybe you saw a miracle. These are some of the moments we never forget. The ones we give testimonies about in church or on mission trips. The ones you know you would never even need a picture to remember it by because it will always be clear in your mind’s eye.

Those moments are great and important to our spiritual lives, but if we live waiting for the next big God explosion to blow our minds, I believe we will be people who are spiritually dying.

I think that like the roots of the trees, perhaps it is the things we will never remember that are the most important for our growth. Just because you can’t see them or remember them does not mean they were not impactful in a most important way. They are the daily times of communion with God that we must wash in over and over, a foundation of layers of continual faithfulness and seeking after God. And just because maybe you can only see or remember the top layer (perhaps what you read in your Bible yesterday) does not mean the other layers of time with God in the past have no relevance or significance.

We are building our foundations on the Rock of Jesus with every daily reading of scripture, prayer service, time of worship, and good deed. So when the rains come down, the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against us we will not fall, because our layers are firm and our roots run deep. If our foundation is not solid, there’s no way anything on top of it will remain.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The bread we buy from Publix was not the bread he was referring to. Real bread only stays fresh for about a day then it gets hard and stale. When I was in Paris I saw people go to the bakery every morning for fresh bread → une baguette. I think with God and man, it must be a daily walk, daily trust, daily praise, and a daily dose of grace and guidance. Our daily bread.

Just like the soil around the roots, the word of God must be continually washed into our lives. “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

You’re not going to remember every moment you ever spend with the Lord, just like Michael Jordan doesn’t remember every basket he’s ever made, but each moment with God is necessary to our growth. You can’t build on top of something that is not there.

Seek the Lord. Build layers on top of layers of intimate and precious moments with your God. Because I believe with all my heart that even if you don’t remember them all, your Father does.

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