We’ve completed a few of them over the three years we’ve lived here, but there are still a few to tackle. So which one did we get to work on a couple weeks ago? New kitchen appliances? Or countertops? Or flooring? A clean, crisp glass shower door installation? Maybe some fresh landscaping tweaks? Nope. None of those things.
Instead, we had some not nearly as exciting work done on our foundation. Our house wasn’t crumbling by any means, but we’d noticed a couple concerning signs. Plus, some houses nearby recently had some serious foundation issues worked on, so we figured it would be wise to have our house checked out, too, just in case. It turns out, our foundation was in pretty good shape overall, but there were a couple concerns that, if left unchecked, could lead to major structural damage. So instead of waiting for it to become worse, we decided to go ahead with the preventative work they recommended.
It felt good knowing we were investing in the structure of our home, but I’ll admit, I was also a bit disappointed. Mostly because I couldn’t really see the work that was done. I know people were under our house working for a day, and I know our bank account shrunk quite a bit, but a more noticeable project would have been way more fun.
However, Brad kept reminding me of the importance of the foundation. A house can have the most beautiful updates and decor, all the bells and whistles, but if it’s structure isn’t sound, well, that matters. It was a reminder I needed about our literal house, but it’s also a reminder I know I need from time to time about my literal life. Because the foundation of my life matters, too.
When I think about the things I’m building my life on, I realize how easy it is for me to focus on what’s seen or noticed. Accomplishments, achievements, or titles. Appearance, possessions, or comfort. Success, wealth, or security. This list could go on. And while it’s not necessarily wrong to care about those things to some degree, they are not and will never be a firm foundation, because they will not last, will not provide sure footing, especially when the storms of life head our way.
In October 2018, a literal storm, Hurricane Michael, hit the Florida panhandle. It has since gone down as one of the worst and most destructive hurricanes to ever hit the continental U.S. and it was certainly the worst storm to ever hit the panhandle thus far. Pictures and video coming out of the worst-hit areas were sobering to say the least, depicting entire communities that were completely destroyed and devastated. At the time of this recording nearly two years later, there is still recovery work to be done and people affected by the storm are still dealing with the aftermath. A Category 5 hurricane is no joke.
However, in the midst of all the destruction, there was one particular home that seemed to defy all odds. It’s located in the community of Mexico Beach, where the eye of the storm passed over, meaning they experienced sustained winds of over 150 mph. About 3/4 of the entire community was completely wiped out, but this house stood strong with minimal damage. So what was the secret? How did the home make it through?
It was discovered that the builders of the home wanted to make sure they did all they could to prepare the house for even the strongest storm. They went above and beyond what building codes call for, installing stone pillars 40 feet below ground to serve as the foundation. Every last nail and screw was picked and installed with intention and by the time the home was complete, they said it could withstand even 250 mph winds. That’s 100 mph stronger than Hurricane Michael.
Foundations matter. And what we build our lives on matters, too. Jesus knew this and at the end of his Sermon on the Mount, He reminds us. In Matthew 7:24-26, Jesus says,
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built their house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish person who built their house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
This passage might be familiar, but it’s a really important one to remember. Jesus is basically saying, “Look, what I just preached is worth building your life on. In fact, my way, God’s Kingdom way, is rock solid. It is everlasting and will make it through even the strongest storm. So don’t just hear what I have to say. Invest in it. Build on it. Put it into practice. Because the waters will rise, the winds will blow, the storms will come. And the sure footing you need is found in Me.”
2020 has certainly been a storm so far, in and of itself. I recently heard it described as the a repeat of the Spanish Flu in 1918, plus the economic downfall of the 1930s combined with the unrest of racial injustice in the 1960s. Throw in your own personal storms, we’re dealing with a lot here, all at once. The perfect storm. If there were ever a time to have sure footing, it’s right now. So what does a life built on the rock look like?
It’s a life that invests in and prioritizes the quiet disciplines of our faith, trusting that what often goes unseen will bear fruit.
It’s a life steeped in humility, which as Rick Warren says, is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself, less.
It’s a life that holds what has been given or earned with open hands, willing to be radically generous for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
It’s a life that recognizes the greatest joy is found in serving in others, rather than ourselves.
It’s a life that not only commits to acts of mercy, but also stands with those who seek justice.
It’s a life that pursues kindness, compassion and love, as a response to and an outpouring of the kindness, compassion and steadfast love that God first showed us.
It’s a life that trades in the bright and shiny for the sturdy and everlasting.
Today, if life feels shaky, remember, you stand on solid ground. May we choose to build on and invest in the foundation that always holds and will forever endure.