It’s a ‘fir’ piece from here, Hardee County. And you have to drive a ‘fir’ piece into Hardee County to get to the megapolis of Ona. Never heard of it? Well, few people have.
Back in the 1970’s, a guy by the name of Howard Solomon went looking for property in Hardee County. In March (this matters). The realtor showed him a very interesting plot of land, with beautiful trees, some sloughs, and of course, plenty of flat land. Mr. Solomon bought the dream and started building himself a house. More like a castle though, with turrets and towers and a falling gate with spears and everything. The outside walls weren’t made out of stone however, they were made from discarded tin plates used to print newspapers- nailed with the backside out of course, otherwise you would walk around his house reading the news from Wauchula, back in the day. I lied about Ona being a megapolis – it’s just a suburb of Wauchula. I’m sure you’ve heard of Wauchula.
The imagination, talent, eccentricity, hard work and ADHD of this man just blows you away. I won’t tell you about all his work, I hope you’ll go. You won’t believe what you’ll find there.
The tour starts in the “grand room.” We gathered as a tour group around the walls of this room, and I was about to lean on the wall whilst waiting, but when I felt the texture of it, I decided not to. Before I could study the soft surface, the guide started talking, and among the things she talked about, she said that Ian, Hurricane Ian, had really done a number on the castle. The castle ended up in 4-5 feet of water. It moved everything around, and damaged much. All Mr. Solomon’s furniture had to go. The inside walls were quickly repaired because, well, they are made out of Styrofoam, not drywall. That explained the weird texture!
Turns out that the house has flooded 17 times since he bought it in the 70’s. After x number of times replacing the drywall, they gave up and used Styrofoam! Turns out, the salesman had sold him swampland. Not the first Floridian to have that happen to, of course. Moral of that story: don’t shop for land at the peak of dry season in Florida!
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus suggested that anyone who listened to His words but didn’t obey them were like the man who built his house on the sand. When the floods rise and the winds blow, it falls down. Now, in Israel, flooding happens more like flash floods. The storm and the waters are very closely related. In Central Florida, the flood comes days after the storm. That’s what happened in Ona.
But the moral is the same. A wise person (or one that hasn’t been duped) builds a house high on solid ground. And that high ground spiritually is the wisdom of God that Jesus articulated. We all know people who know the right stuff – can quote the Bible up and down but they don’t believe it, or don’t live by it, and so what’s the use?
I think this is what James was talking about when he said that we must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” It’s when we practice what we have been taught that we show we have gained wisdom. Knowledge is great, but useless until applied.
Let us be doers of the Word. Let us love our neighbors and serve others, and share the Grace that has been showered on us. What Jesus shared wasn’t all that complicated; it just needs to be abided by. Then we can live high and dry, and not with Styrofoam as a construction material. Have you ever rubbed Styrofoam!?
Back on the coast,
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:21,22