House of Cards
by Pastor Aaron Adame
You have probably seen those people who can balance a deck of cards stacked up on each other (maybe you are one of those people). It is really quite miraculous when you think about how light and flimsy cards are, along with a paper-thin surface area. Because of this, in order for the feat to work, the environment around the cards needs to be perfect—no breeze, a level surface, and no shaking or bumps.
I have thought of this as an illustration to life on this earth. If there is anything we have learned over the last several weeks it’s this: life and our lifestyle is incredibly fragile. Even the smallest bump or breeze can send the whole house tumbling down—particularly if you are building your life on sandy soil and with cheap materials.
My daughters love to play Jenga—they also love to pester each other. If one stacks up the Jenga pieces, the other will come and knock it down. You can imagine what happens next—fights, screaming, utter hysteria! That’s what happens when your precious yet fragile house of cards comes falling down.
In this world, people without Christ are like people building a house of cards. It’s beautiful when it’s created, but it’s fragile. And what do they do when their house of cards is threatened? Hysteria! People will do anything to preserve the illusion of control and safety. Even our rights are no guarantee.
My heart goes out to the millions of people who are weathering this storm without any hope or comfort in Christ. My heart goes out because I also was once there—and you probably were too.
When I first HEARD the gospel, the day before Thanksgiving 2004, I remember the pastor saying [paraphrase], “We as Christians have so much to be thankful for because we have Christ. Even if you are struggling this holiday season, you should be filled with thanksgiving. But if you are here today and you don’t know Christ, at the end of the day you have nothing really to be thankful for. Even if you have everything you could want at the moment, you are still without.”
When the pastor said this, my life flashed before me of all the things I was putting my worth and happiness in. And to be honest, it was a house of cards. I had everything a secular guy could want at 20 years old. Yet in that moment, I realized that I could lose it all that night. My truck, my job, my health, my friends, my lifestyle… it all was a house of cards. One little breeze or bump and it could all be gone—and then what? All that I had put my worth and happiness in would be gone, and I’d be ruined.
But then I realized through this gospel message, that if I had Christ, I could lose it all and it wouldn’t matter! I’d have CHRIST, and He’s all I need or could ever want. That night, I trusted Christ as my only Lord and Savior. I discovered His love for me, a wretched sinner, when I considered His cross and resurrection. That He knew all the things I had done and still chose to give His life in my place—let that truth sink in for a moment! I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I was empty, and He fulfilled. I was lost, and He found me.
Ironically, eventually I did lose it all. My boss laid me off because I became a Christian. My girlfriend dumped me. My friends were gone. I had to move back home (that might have been the lowest point—haha). All that was left was my health. But what I had lost didn’t compare to what I had gained. Truth and life in a relationship with the triune God!
I resonate with Paul’s sentiment in Philippians, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 ESV). Paul had had enough of religion and running with the social elites. Paul was tired of the feeling that if only he could work a little harder, God would be okay with him. When Jesus found him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), Paul realized that He was everything he never knew he always wanted.
I also resonate with the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44–46 ESV).
When a person discovers Christ, everything else just seems inadequate. What once pacified or numbed the emptiness inside is instantly not enough. That house of cards you keep trying to hold together—despite all the forces at work against it—is suddenly a heap on the floor… and you don’t even care.
Friends, what are you finding your worth and happiness in? What are you finding your strength and hope in? It is in times like the ones we are living in that this question becomes all too real. It is only when the house of cards we’ve been playing with and preserving is blown to pieces that we are actually able to see life for what it is, see ourselves for who we truly are, and see Christ for who He truly is!
I’ll end with the words of Jesus recorded in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 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” (Mt 7:24–27 ESV).