When we first moved into the apartment we currently occupy, we noticed that the bottom of the tub in the master bathroom dipped in about three inches when we stepped in it. We talked to the office and maintenance staff about this, and they said not to worry. A couple of days later, we noticed that the bottom of the tub had cracked. We notified the office and maintenance staff again, and they told us to please use the guest tub until someone could come out and take a look. Fast-forward about three and a half weeks, and the tub guy finally came. He said that some work was going to have to be done on the foundation before he could fix the crack. So the following day, the tub contractor arrived, and after essentially sawing our bathroom apart, it was determined that the entire tub is going to have to be replaced. And judging by the unhealthy amount of fiberglass dust that accumulated in our bathroom and bedroom during this initial visit, it became clear that we are going to have to move. Again.
For me, the most frustrating thing about this mess is that it could have been prevented. Our apartment is only a couple years old, and when the tub guy tore our bathroom apart, it was clear that whoever installed our tub did not give much attention to its foundation. If they had made more of an effort during the building process, even though it might have required a little more time, we would not be in the situation we are currently in.
I’ve been reminded that foundations matter. As I was dealing with all of this last week, I kept thinking about how Jesus knew this, too. In fact, He ends the Sermon on the Mount with that very idea. If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in the church, you know this parable. At the end of Matthew 7, Jesus compares a wise builder to a foolish builder. The wise builder made sure his foundation was strong and secure, and the foolish builder built upon not-so-sturdy sand. When a storm came their way, the wise builder’s home remained strong and intact, while the foolish builder’s home was destroyed. Jesus uses this illustration to teach us that what we build our lives upon matters. Life can be pretty treacherous sometimes, and in those moments, our core is either going to hold us together, or let us fall apart.
It is very clear that whoever installed our tub was more concerned with getting it done, rather than doing it well. And now, a couple years later, it has caused a pretty big mess. A #firstworldproblem mess? Absolutely. But, a mess nonetheless. And here’s the thing: it is so easy for me to be frustrated by this, by the fact that it’s causing such an inconvenience as we are trying to settle in here. But ya’ll…I do the exact same thing. All. The. Time.
So often, TOO often, I am more concerned with my to-do list – with getting things accomplished, staying busy, building a life that is going to make a difference. But what I fail to remember is that, as wonderful as my to-do list might seem, and as great of an impact as I hope it will make, the foundation of it all matters. If the foundation of my life is not getting the attention it needs, then the “good” life I am building is sure to come crumbling down at the first sign of a blustery day.
And so we need to care about our foundations. They need to matter to us. We need to be investing in our foundation…
I can honestly tell you that I notice the difference between the days that start with me spending even just a little bit of time with Jesus, and the days that don’t. And yes, there are plenty of days that don’t start that way. But when I choose to start my day with Jesus, I find that I am able to stay grounded in Him. And when I’m hit with disappointment, or an inconvenience, or an insecure moment, I’m able to keep standing and keep going, with a much smaller effect.
There is this thing called church, and we are called to be a part of it. In fact, our foundations need us to be a part of it on a regular basis. It is easy to think that our own personal faith is just fine on its own, but God values relationships. And we can’t do life on our own. There is something so special and refreshing about worshipping together, learning together, praying together, growing together…just doing life together. And there is something so easy about putting church on the backburner, saying we’re too tired or busy to make it this week. But choosing to be a part of a church community on a weekly basis is vital to the strength of our foundation.
Our lives are not about us, and while that may seem like a weak perspective, it actually helps to enforce a strong foundation. At least once a month, we need to be intentional about doing something for someone else – doing something where we are not the focus. Now, really, this mindset should be laced throughout our entire lives, but there is something about making the effort and actually planning to volunteer somewhere, or help someone in need, that changes our perspective. When we put our cares and needs aside, we find that the things we thought could tear us down really aren’t that big of a threat after all. When it’s not about us, our footing becomes a bit stronger.
Our foundation… I know it’s simple. I know it’s basic. But if you’re anything like me, it’s the simple and basic that I tend to overlook the most, and it’s also what tends to matter the most. Creating space and opportunities to be reminded of God’s character and purpose for us will change our perspective as we go about our every day, and it will enhance our effectiveness as bearers of God’s love in this world. My prayer is that our lives will be built on something that is strong, sturdy, and sure, because our foundations are something that matter, and that we choose to invest in.