We’ve been in our new house for nine months now. And since then, we’ve had quite a few guests. As I give them the tour, they notice the flooring or the counter tops. Some love the cabinetry, the light fixtures, the tile and the paint colors.
And everyone loves the porch. I mean, what’s not to love about this porch?.
But you know what I have never heard any of my guests say? “Wow. What a great foundation!”
Not once. They’ve never even noticed the foundation.
It’s weird, because the foundation is holding up the whole thing.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
People notice and comment on the pretty things they can see. But all the pretty things are temporary. Tile, lights, color and furniture? These are all lovely features, but they have absolutely no bearing on the strength or structure of the house. These are all things that can be replaced or updated someday. But the foundation…we can never replace the foundation.
Well, we can, actually. It’s called “building a whole new house.”
“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.”
Truth be told, foundations are boring.
There are no “foundation” boards on Pinterest. I didn’t stock up on foundation samples and carry them around in my car to match them up to carpet and paint colors. No one rushes over to see what I did with the foundation.
I mean, we were excited when they poured the foundation, but only because we knew all the fun stuff happened AFTER the foundation was finished. The foundation wasn’t fun or pretty. It was just a hole filled with cement and steel beams.
Our builder has a reputation for beautiful trim work. That’s one of the many reasons we chose him. One of my favorite parts of the entire building process was driving to the new house with the kids after school to watch the trim guys, with all their tools and materials, create what eventually became mantles and book shelves and coffered ceilings.
I was fascinated how they extracted ideas from my head, and then patiently and painstakingly proceeded to carve and shape and smooth and measure them into works of art.
I bet, as a builder, it’s tempting to cut corners on the foundation in order to spend more resources on the showy parts of the house, like the trim. I mean, who but another builder would know the difference?
At least, not for awhile.
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
But if the foundation is flawed, over time, cracks would develop, the trim would separate from the walls, the doors stick, the windows gap, the floors slope. And eventually, a storm would come (they always do!) and destroy everything the trim guys (and frame guys and tile guys and cabinet guys and flooring guys…) worked so hard to create.
No matter how skilled the craftsmen, no matter how exclusive the material, no matter how meticulous the placement, the integrity of the structure depends on the quality of the foundation.
Or for those of you who like math:
Beautiful trim work + Crappy Foundation = Crappy House
This is precisely why Jesus talked about foundations. Because, if we don’t have a good one, the whole gorgeous thing will eventually come crashing down.
A wise builder knows the foundation is not the place to compromise, even if no one knows the difference.
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When people drive past our lives, they mostly notice the things they can see: where we work, where our kids go to school, what we drive, what we wear, if we’re fat. Who can blame them? After all, it’s hard to see a foundation. Even a spiritual one.
Jesus said there are only two kinds of foundations: Wise or Foolish. Christ or anything else. You are either one who hears the words of God and obeys, or you are one who hears of the word of God and does not obey.
Those are our two foundation choices.
That means all those things people see? The job, the clothes, the muscle definition, the car…They make nice accessories, but they make terrible foundations.
I know people who build their whole foundation on quality of education. They spend all their energy getting themselves or their kids into the right schools, achieving the right test scores and adding the right things to build the right transcript. Quality education is nice. I had a good education and I value a good education. I’m paying a stinking fortune for private schools so my kids get the best education we can afford. But I can’t build my foundation on that.
I know others who build a foundation on physical health, or happiness or family or financial independence or pursuit of their dreams. Again, all gorgeous. I want all those things, too. They make pretty Pinterest boards. But they make horrible foundations.
Education, career, finances, health, family, and fulfilled dreams are the framework and windows and plumbing of our home, but not the foundation. They are windows and appliances and furniture—the good and necessary stuff of day-to-day life. They are curtains and bedding and pantry items, even. They are the stuff supported by the foundation—not the foundation itself.
They are the things others can see in my life, but they can’t be the thing supporting my life.
If my family is stable, it’s not because I’ve put my hope in family. It’s because I put my hope in Christ, and my family rests on that. If my finances are stable, it’s not because I’ve put my hope in finances. It’s because I’ve put my hope in Christ, and my finances rest on that.
The fact that the walls stand firm in a storm, is not proof of strong walls. It’s proof of a solid foundation.
It all points back to that deep hole that we dug when no one was looking.
The things people see—your marriage, your kids, your health, your job—these are beautiful, but they are only as strong as the foundation upon which you build them. If family and finances survive the storms of life, it will be only because the foundation upon which they stand is solid.
Rising up in the early morning before the rest of the family to seek God…not glamorous.
Carving out time to worship our Heavenly Father… not convenient.
Scheduling time to serve the needy…not comfortable.
Loving and forgiving and submitting and sacrificing… just plain hard.
None of it is popular or pretty or Pinterest-worthy. Chances are excellent that no one will ever see or know all you do behind the scenes to lay a solid foundation.
That’s okay if no one sees it. Do it anyway. This is not the place to cut corners.
Take the time to lay a good foundation and build from there. And when the storm starts beating on your walls, all the other things you value will be safe within the shelter.
Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken. Isaiah 28:16