Summary: Matthew 7:24-29 Building your house above the floodplain

Matthew 7:24-29

Building your house above the floodplain


Earlier this year Queensland experienced something big. A big natural disaster. What was it? Floods. They were everywhere. We had them in Gympie. They had them out bush – some towns cut off for weeks. And even our capital our biggest city – the big smoke - somewhere we thought immune to these big disasters - Bisbane experienced the floods. Brisbane was flooded. Well – is that quite true that Brisbane was flooded? Well, not all Brisbane was flooded. Actually – only bits of it were flooded, but those bits were flooded pretty bad. And one thing we learnt from those floods is that where you build your house really matters. Those flood charts the council puts out aren’t just a bureaucratic exercise - they mean something! Before the floods earlier this year Brisbane had its large major flood when? 1974. That was quite a while ago. For the few years after 74 people were careful where they built, but then as the years went by they forgot. Yes – there were those council flood maps, but really, was it going to flood again, especially now there was Wivenhoe Dam. And when you looked at the land on lower ground it looked exactly like the land on higher ground. In fact sometimes it looked better because the lower land sometimes had river views. And the Brisbane City Council began to allow people to build on the lower land. So we thought - it must be alright, so people built. Developers built whole estates, and for many years it looked like a wise decision, making the best use of land. Until the beginning of this year, when what happened? The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and those low lying houses were flooded. But – the houses on higher ground were not flooded.

A few days after the Brisbane floods we were down in Brisbane. We visited my sister in Yeronga – one of the badly hit suburbs, and then drove through flood ravaged Graceville and Chelmer on the way to my parents place in Indooroopilly. Well – actually, parts of these suburbs were badly hit. And that’s the thing, you could be driving down one street, and all the houses were fine, no problems, they hadn’t been affected by the floods at all. And then you turned the corner, and there was mud everywhere - mud on the roads, mud on the walls of the houses, piles of ruined furniture and whitegoods on the footpath. It was a mess. The difference? A few feet in elevation – that’s all. And all of sudden it occurred to us that those decisions to build those houses on lower land weren’t such wise decisions after all. Because before the flood, the land looked the same. It made sense to build there. Who cared what some chart some council bureaucrat made up said. The land looked good! But then come January 2011 we find out that those decisions weren’t that great after all.

Now 2000 years ago it wasn’t that much different in the land of Israel. Some parts of that part of that part of the world are lush, but other parts are drier. In those parts it doesn’t rain very often, and criss-crossing the landscape are things called “wadis.” Who knows what a wadi is? A wadi is what we would call a dry river bed. That is – it’s a creek or stream that is pefectly dry most of the time. And sometimes these wadis can be quite wide. The land looks fine – if a bit sandy. A great place to build a house, and it’s certainly easier to build a house on the sandy soil which is easier to work with, than on the rocky ground which is higher up. So, someone new to the area might do that. Someone who’s never seen the wadi in flood before. They look at this great land – nice soft land for building on, no rocks or stones to clear off the site, and they build. But the wiser man who knows the area a bit better, he builds a bit higher up on the rocky ground. It might be a bit harder to build there, but he knows there’s a good reason to build up there. Why? Well, most of the time the wadi is dry. In fact in some places the wadi might be dry for years. For all those years the house on the rocky ground and the house on the sandy ground of the wadi will both do quite fine, just like the houses in Brissy – the low lying ones and the higher up ones - who would know the difference? Until one day it starts to rain, and it rains and rains and rains and rains, so much so the wadis turn into creeks which turn into rivers. The rivers rise, and the wind blows and howls, and what happens? The house build on the sand in the wadi falls with a great fall, while the house build higher up on the rocky ground stands strong. Why? Because it has been founded on the hard, rocky ground.

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