We are all familiar with the tale of the Three Little Pigs and the lesson that comes with it. Build your house of bricks, because the big bad wolf can blow down houses made of straw or sticks. As a child I remember learning that the story meant more than what it seemed. I think I was in third grade when we studied fables and how we can apply them to our lives. I remember trying to figure out why a pig would make a house at all – didn’t he have a farmer to take care of him? But even still, if he must make a house, why would he make it out of straw? Was he lazy? Was he weak and bricks were too heavy? Was he cheap? Was he stupid? And the same went for the pig who made his house of sticks. Maybe he was slightly less lazy, weak, cheap, and stupid. I tried to learn from the story as best as I could, and I decided I must work hard, be strong, not cut corners, and be smart. It would be a lie if I told you that this story shaped the way I lived my life from third grade on. I didn’t ever refer back to the Story of the Three Little Pigs and think “am I doing the equivalent of building my house of straw or sticks?” However, it did become one more reminder that I was in charge of my future. My future successes depended on me and my abilities.
Although there is some truth in what I learned, it wasn’t the whole truth. The story of the pigs is missing a very important structural piece: foundation. Houses of straw or sticks can still be blown over by a simple huff and puff from a big bad wolf, even with a strong the foundation. But a house of bricks with a strong foundation can stand up to almost anything. A house of bricks with no foundation can stand up to a huff and a puff from a bad wolf, at first, but what about years later when the house starts to settle. Without a foundation the structural integrity of the house is in jeopardy and it gets worse with every year that passes. Although the 3rd pig ate the big bad wolf for dinner when the wolf tried to come down the chimney, there are sure to be more wolves as life goes on. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
I have spent my whole life trying to build a good life with my own hard work, my own strength, my riches/abilities, and with my own understanding; but I never took a good hard look at the foundation I was building it on. I had heard the parable Jesus told of the man building his house on a rock, but it never occurred to me that I was the man who built his house on sand.
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
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. 25 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. 26 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. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
I always thought because I believed in Jesus I was the man who built his house on a rock. I didn’t realize that the way I was living my life proved otherwise. I had a plan for my life: I always wanted to get married, own a house, and have kids. When Dean and I fell in love I could see my life coming together. It was only a matter of time before I would be living the beautiful life I had planned for myself. But my plans were flawed. I did not plan for the storms of life. Turns out, I built my beautiful house on sand and years later it fell apart in front of my eyes when I was hit by one storm after the other.
I put my faith in my plans. I started to believe that I would only be happy if my plans succeeded. That worked out fine when everything went according to plan, but then life started happening. Dean had some health issues that scared me half to death. The horrible monster of infertility made its presence known in our lives as well. And in the midst of all this I started to have my own health concerns. No matter how hard I tried I could not fix, figure out, or plan these things away. I had no control over them and they were ruining everything I had built. I was so scared of everything I had built fading away that I spent all my energy on trying to fix things as they broke. There were so many broken things to fix that I couldn’t keep up with it, let alone make future plans. And then it happened, one last storm blew through, I don’t even remember what it was, but it leveled me. I crashed. My “house” could not stand.
I still remember the moment I sunk to the floor and sobbed. I felt like I lost something or someone very dear to me. In a way I had. I was grieving the life that I wanted and worked for but didn’t get. (Dean if you are reading this, you are amazing and are in no way a disappointment to me. I love you more than anyone on this earth). It sounds selfish and ungrateful. And in reality it is: any outsider would look in and say my life is amazing and I have been blessed. But at that moment when I was sobbing on the floor it didn’t matter if it was selfish or ungrateful. God didn’t condemn me for that (he later brought it to my attention so I could grow), He simply wanted me to see that I was putting my faith into my plans instead of Him. He wanted me to see that my plans were sand, they could not support me against the storms of life. He alone could keep me standing during the squalls.
So magically my house was rebuilt before my eyes and everything was beautiful and shiny. Dean and I had a stable full of unicorns, and a house full of babies that pooped rainbows and never cried.
In reality, I was still very much leveled. My life looked (and still kind of does look) like this:
I had a lot of pain to work through, and a lot of things to rebuild. But I knew when I started to rebuild I had to build on a rock: God.
The past several weeks have been all about me recovering from my fall. I have been nursing my wounds by bringing them to God. He has brought me so much peace and comfort. Now he is slowly starting to reveal to me how I build my life on Him.
So far God has shown me two steps:
1. Just be and Let it Be. Be still and know that I am God – Pslam 46:10: No matter what, I need to spend my time with God. It doesn’t matter what others say or think, all that matters is that I rest in his presence. God has allowed me to truly experience this blessing and it will not be taken from me.
2. Give thanks,praise, and gratitude. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18: This is a lot harder than I thought. I am spending my time thanking God for his blessings and even for my suffering. My suffering has brought me closer to Him and that is worthy of thanks and praise for sure. When I start to feel the weight of anxiety I quickly start to thank God for all my blessings. It really does help.
As I start to live into these first two steps I know God will reveal more to me and help rebuild my life.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, while himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10