Twice in a month I've sat through sermons on ye olde parable of the house on the rock (btw, there is such a place in Wisconsin--see above) and the house on the sand. Twice. Preachers aren't clones, of course, so even though the text didn't change, sand castles being precarious and silly, the sermons weren't xerox copies. Each had its own tweaks.
Still, the Bible is a big book. What are the odds of twice in a month on any verse therein?
There had to be a message.
The truth is, we never really guessed that someday we would build a house, but--voila!--we have. And we now live in it, happily I might add, coming up on a year. It's not a particularly showy place, but it's blessedly livable, two wide floors of open space and nothing but Iowa countryside out back, as far as you can see.
But, alas, it is built on sand. Really is.
For which we're thankful.
The truth is, you just can't believe the Bible.
I'm kidding--not about the house, about the Bible.
When the builder first stood out here, he looked out over the back yard and tried to measure, in his head, the dimensions of the walk-out basement we told him we'd like. One of the first things he told us is what a good site this actually is--the lot that is--because the house is going to go up on sand. That's exactly what he told us. I'm quoting. Seriously, when he uttered those blasphemous words, he was even cracking a smile.
He's a good church guy. He checks in every Sabbath, wouldn't miss a morning worship; I'm not sure about evenings. He cares about his work, about what he does; but he cares about faith too. I'm sure some institutions in the neighborhood greatly appreciate his attention.
By all accounts and in our experience, he's a good, good man, but I'm sad to say he was guilty of the Dutch Reformed sin of spotten, of being goofy with biblical truth. Right then and there in wide-open Siouxland country, holy heresy. I'm not making this up.
When I questioned him on his sin, he smiled. True story. He tipped his head slightly, as if he wished he didn't have to admit it; but then he did: the Savior had it wrong because in northwest Iowa at least, building on sand is mucho-better than building on rock (of which there isn't much anyway).
Sand drains, you know. Sand is forgiving. Sand doesn't require black gunpowder. Sand is much, much easier on equipment. Your lot is a wonderful place because building a house on sand is good thing.
He's the one who said it. Not me.
Of course, what's under our feet out the back door isn't Lake Michigan beach, the stuff you can tread all day and still go nowhere. Our dirt's sandy-ness is relative to the sticky black stuff in the neighborhood, the stuff called Primghar, hard-as-rock-dirt a summer's drought away from straight-up granite. What we have under us is sandy when compared to the rich loess topsoil people say you simply can't get enough of. It's sandy because it's clear that not much grows from it, and just about everything grows in Iowa otherwise. It's sand from the river in our back yard.
Our sand is not a great host for soybeans and may well require mechanical showering if you want to grow corn; but it sure enough makes for a great house bed--at least that's what he told us, this good Christian builder.
Look for yourself.
Jesus was a carpenter's son. He probably picked up a hammer, may have even tried his hand at a house or two. But he didn't live in Iowa, and he likely wasn't talking about a lot just north of Alton when he said what he did about the bumbling of building on sand.
He had something more fundamental in mind, I guess, so we'll excuse him for not getting it right. In a way he was writing something like fiction, not a builder's manual; and sometimes fiction tells the truth in ways the fact don't or can't. Okay, I'm prejudice on that one.
Anyway, twice in a month I heard sermons about the horrors of a sandy foundation and I didn't say a word, even though I knew there was some Christ-like overstatement in the parable. Of course, neither of the pastors mentioned that Jesus was, in a matter of speaking, well, wrong.
And He wasn't, of course. Not about big stuff. He wasn't talking about a lot on the Floyd River. He had other things in mind, big things, stuff for sermons, I guess.
Besides, what's under us isn't about to blow away.
I think He'd like that and so would two preachers--and a builder.