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    Note: This post is part of a series about building a personal relationship with God by reading the parables of Jesus. You can browse the entire series here

    God gives us the Bible to make us internally strong, not to give us rules to follow.

    Realizing that God’s Word will bring real, positive change into our lives makes a relationship with God less theoretical and more personal.

    In this devotional, we’ll dive into one of Jesus’ parables—the story of the wise and foolish builders. This story teaches us that God’s Word will make us strong enough to handle anything life throws at us if we listen to it and do what it says. 

    On the other hand, we can learn from the times we collapse under pressure and use those moments to change what we rely on. Understanding the way we handle the storms of life can help us recognize what we’re building our lives on, and learn how to trust God and his way instead.

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    As you read through the story, consider the following questions:

    1. How have I been handling life? What are the storms in my life and how have I been responding to them?
    2. What does that tell me about what I rely on? If my source of security is unstable, the way I handle life will be unstable.
    3. How do I build my life God’s way? Building our lives on the Bible isn’t about following rules, but trusting that God cares about us enough to make us strong.

    What does the way you have been handling your life lately tell you about what you rely on? How do you think God’s Word can make you strong?

    How have I been handling life?

    “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you don’t do what I say? The people who come to me, who listen to my teachings and obey them— I will show you what they are like: They are like a man building a house. He digs deep and builds his house on rock. The floods come, and the water crashes against the house. But the flood cannot move the house, because it was built well. But the people who hear my words and do not obey are like a man who builds a house without preparing a foundation. When the floods come, the house falls down easily and is completely destroyed.”

    Luke 6:46-49 ERV

    Jesus tells us in this story that we can choose what we will build our lives on. It is a choice between relying on God’s Word or something else, which is a big deal because what you choose to build your life on will determine your future. Jesus’s parable above makes this clear and encourages us to rely on God’s Word. 

    This story also tells us that everyone will experience storms. Both people in this story experience a flood crashing against their house. Regardless of what you build your life on, no one is exempt from experiencing the storms of life. 

    The Bible teaches us what storms can look and feel like:

    Panic comes like a stormy blast … misfortune sweeps in like a whirlwind … sorrow and anguish weigh you down

    Proverbs 1:27 Voice

    Storms are the outward circumstances that can bring misfortune (a distressing or unfortunate incident or event) which can lead to panic (fear or anxiety; distress; wildly unthinking behavior). 

    If we find ourselves collapsing emotionally during one of these storms, all hope is not lost—storms and floods show us what we are really relying on and help us learn how to build our lives on something stronger.

    One memorable storm in my life happened when I was playing football with the Xtreme Football League (XFL). I was excited to be in the starting lineup because I saw the league and upcoming season as a way for NFL teams to notice and recruit me. 

    Then I suddenly pulled my groin muscle and was put on injured reserve. This unexpected storm brought a flood of painful emotions along with it. I was afraid I was missing my opportunity to get another shot with the NFL. I was embarrassed that I was injured and was jealous of my teammates. I was angry; I felt this injury was extremely unfair. I wanted to play anyway and was resentful of the team’s decision to sit me. 

    Though I did have a relationship with God, I didn’t look to him or his Word for guidance. Instead I chose to let my emotions lead me. I lashed out both publicly and privately. I confronted my coaches, and got angry at the equipment manager. I even threw my cleats across the locker room. 

    I was facing storms but choosing to rely on myself to get through them, which led to greater destruction, distress, and difficulty for me and for those around me. Eventually (as I’ll explain a little later) I learned from this emotional crash, and it helped me decide to change. I became stronger as I decided to build my life God’s way.

    In the rest of this devotional, we will look more closely at each of the people in this parable. They can help us understand how to build our lives on a strong foundation so we don’t collapse emotionally in the storms of life.

    Pause and reflect:

    • What storms or challenges are you currently facing? 
    • How are you choosing to handle your life in the midst of these challenges?

    What can I learn from my response to my storms?

    “The person who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it is like someone who built a house on the ground without any foundation. The floodwaters pushed against it, and that house quickly collapsed and was destroyed.”

    Luke 6:49 GW

    It is important to stop and reflect on how we are handling life and what we are building on. If we build our lives on something other than the Word of God, we won’t have a foundation strong enough to handle the storms and floods of life. Even if relying on ourselves seems easier in the moment, our decisions will eventually catch up to us. 

    As I shared earlier, the “floodwaters” of my unexpected injury exposed that I had not built my life on a strong foundation. Losing my ability to play football crushed me emotionally, because I had built my life on my achievements, abilities, and emotions. The things I relied on for security and confidence were collapsing around me. 

    Following my emotions in response to that injury led me to make destructive choices that affected me and other people in my life. I finally hit a low point where I realized I needed to change. 

    I finally hit a low point where I realized I needed to change. 

    I prayed and asked God for help changing my heart and putting his Word into practice. I looked to God’s Word for hope by reading books and chapters in the Bible about spiritual people who faced trials, yet relied on God and his Word to come out victorious. 

    I also decided to listen to the input and feedback of spiritual men who advised me to go back to my coaches to apologize. Rather than competing with my teammates, I became a fan of theirs and built relationships with them (even though I still had moments of envying their success). 

    I recommitted to reading the Bible and putting it into practice, and even started a group Bible study for the team. I helped a good friend of mine build a relationship with God. The same equipment manager I had lashed out at earlier (when I threw my cleats across the locker room) eventually studied the Bible and also built a personal relationship with God that radically changed his life.

    Before I knew it, I was even back on the field playing football. 

    The good thing about storms is that they wash away the weak and wobbly parts of our lives, and make room to build something better. Even the moments where we feel we are collapsing emotionally can be the start of something new. God can always give us a new start.

    “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last.”

    Luke 6:48 MSG

    God wants to help us build our lives in a way that enables us to stand strong. The challenge is that building our lives this way requires the mental, emotional, and spiritual effort of digging down deep. Digging down deep helps us gain understanding about what we truly rely on or are motivated by. Then we can practice relying on God’s Word where we find it most challenging to do so. 

    A huge part of digging deep is learning to recognize the signs that the “floodwaters” of life are starting to knock us down. Then we can change before we start making choices that hurt ourselves or other people. Here are some common signs we might be starting to crumble under the pressures and problems of life:

    • We start hiding our real feelings. Relying on deceit makes us crumble (Isaiah 30:12-15).
    • We put up a strong front around our friends. Pride and acting like you don’t need help lead to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
    • We have chronic negative thoughts about ourselves and the future. When we rely on ourselves we can’t see the good things that come our way (Jeremiah 17:5-6).
    • Our thoughts are constantly racing. Fear and worry can make our thoughts run out of control (Psalm 94:19 TPT).
    • We are quick to cut off friends who have hurt us. Bitterness is a poisonous way we handle the pain and hurt of life if we don’t let God’s grace help us to forgive. (Hebrews 12:15).
    • We become dependent on the attention of others to feel good about ourselves. People’s approval is fickle and if you rely on it you will feel trapped (Proverbs 29:25).
    • We are jealous and envious of others’ success or happiness. Jealousy leaves us unfulfilled, resentful, and always chasing the next thing we think will make us happy (Proverbs 14:30).

    Recognizing these signs is an important step to digging deep so we can rebuild our lives on a stronger foundation. 

    When we make purposeful decisions to build our lives on God’s Word, then our lives can withstand any circumstance, no matter how challenging. 

    Pause and reflect

    • Take some time to practice “digging deep” by asking yourself the following question: Do I recognize any of the signs listed above in my life? Which ones?

    How do I build God’s way?

    What good is it to mouth the words, “Lord! Lord!” if you don’t live by My teachings? What matters is that you come to Me, hear My words, and actually live by them.

    Luke 6:46-47 Voice

    Putting the Bible into practice is what helps you believe God is real and also know that what Jesus teaches is true (John 7:17). When we put the Bible into practice and see the results of what it says in our lives, our trust in God and his Word will grow. This is how God becomes personal to us. We see how his words make a real difference in our lives. They aren’t just stories, rules, or words on paper. They are personal and intended to make us strong. 

    Building our lives on God’s Word doesn’t exempt us from storms, but it does help us withstand them. God’s Word equips us emotionally (2 Corinthians 10:5 Voice), mentally (Luke 10:19 AMPC), and spiritually (Ephesians 6:13-18 MSG) for all kinds of tests and trials. It equips us to do good regardless of what happens in our lives or what other people around us do. 

    In the Bible, God gives us options outside of our own emotions, impulses, or abilities. Then we can handle pressure, anxiety, and conflict without crumbling.

    Let’s look at some biblical options that can help us handle life God’s way when storms come:

    • Being honest with God relieves us of pressure and shame, and keeps us safe from life’s storms (Psalm 32:1-7).
    • Admitting our needs to our friends and asking for help makes us stronger (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
    • Trusting that God is bigger than we are helps us quiet our negative thoughts (1 John 3:19-20 VOICE, Jeremiah 29:11). 
    • Believing God cares about us calms our worries (Luke 12:6-7 TPT).
    • Choosing to love and forgive leads us to have happier relationships (Galatians 6:1-3).
    • Learning to find satisfaction in God alone is freeing (Psalm 73:23-26).
    • Embracing the unique and different things about you and those around you is far more fulfilling than competing with people (Galatians 5:25-26 MSG).

    Believing and obeying these promises will actually lead to a much better life than the one we build if we live by our emotions. 

    When we experience close connections, forgiveness, freedom from shame, loving relationships, best friendships, and more, then we will grow in our belief in the power of God and the reality of God. We will be moved to be in a relationship with God, and to keep obeying him and serving him. 

    We can make a few key decisions to build our lives God’s way:

    1. Set special time aside for God daily. When you do this, you are telling God that his relationship matters to you. 
    2. Listen to his Word. Spend time understanding your own needs. Find books of the Bible to read and verses to memorize that encourage you.
    3. Live by his teachings. Choose verses of the Bible you want to obey and look for the opportunity in your day to apply them to the things you face or people you interact with.

    Build your faith in God’s Word today by choosing to obey a specific scripture to help you with a challenge you are going through.

    The more I have relied on the Bible to handle my life, the more my faith in God has grown. My ability to handle life in the most meaningful and impactful ways has grown too. God’s Word has brought me joy even when life has sent unexpected storms my way.

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    Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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