The Chatham Break

Linda Massey Weddle | December 6, 2018

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Matthew 7:27

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.               

—Matthew 7:27

My mother-in-law grew up in Chatham, Massachusetts, which (as they say) is on the elbow of Cape Cod. And although she moved to Pennsylvania after she married, she never lost her accent or her love for the Cape. So when our entire family was able to go back to Chatham for vacation, she excitedly became tour guide for us. One of the things she talked about was the Chatham Break.

At one time, a barrier reef stretched along the outer banks of the cape for several miles. (She remembers this when she was a child.) But the landscape is constantly changing. Every time a bad storm roars through, the sand shifts. One barrier reef is now three barrier reefs and the sand continues to separate and reconnect in new formations. After storms, when the wind and rains howl across the Atlantic, scientists, photographers, and residents study the new landscape. In fact, there is even a Facebook page dedicated to Chatham’s Three Breaks.

The reef doesn’t have hotels, restaurants, or houses, but it does have high winds—even (so the reviews say) on a good day. You can swim off the reef, but the area is known for underwater drop-offs and undertows. The sand on the reef molds itself into ever-changing dunes.

Sand shifts. We don’t expect sand to stay in one place. We know it’s unstable. Only a foolish person would build their house on such an unstable foundation.

The people in Chatham recognize that their sandy reef will change with every big storm that blows their way. And even though we live in the Midwest, we can figure that out too.

Yet even though we don’t make an effort to strengthen our spiritual foundation, we seem surprised when the life-storms come and cause chaos. We complain and get angry, and then we talk to a friend or the pastor. “Hey, what happened? I’m a Christian. Why’s this stuff going on in my life?”

We shift and sway in the wind, never taking the time to build a solid foundation.

We often show little concern about bracing against life-storms until it’s too late. We haven’t been in the Word, yet we’re surprised when we face a tough situation and we fall apart. We know we believe in God, but we aren’t grounded enough to clearly explain the Gospel to a neighbor who tries to persuade us to try his “religion.” We know how to portray a spiritual façade, but go into a panic when a co-worker asks us a question about the Bible.

What if the people on Cape Cod decided to ignore the changing foundation of the reef and built hotels and restaurants on the barrier reef? We’d think they were foolish.

So why are we so foolish in building our spiritual foundation on “shifting sand?”

Questions for reflection and discussion: Have you seen a storm change a formation of sand? What kind of foundation is your spiritual life built on? How can we prepare ourselves for the life storms that face us? 

This week’s devotions were written by Linda Massey Weddle. Linda is the author of thirteen books, and numerous short stories and articles. For twenty-four years she worked at Awana as a writer. Linda has attended WBC for the past six years. 

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