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When foundations fail

Posted September 02, 2015 in Community Featured, Urbandale

My cabin neighbor impressed me as he put a new foundation under his lake home, which had stood as a north woods cabin until he added a second story and hefty log siding. The decades-old foundation couldn’t handle the added weight, and when I arrived, steel beams and wooden cribs supported the structure as he dug in search of bedrock.

As I peered into the hole, he told me this hadn’t come as a surprise. “I was hoping I could get by with the old foundation,” he told me, “but knew this could happen.”

Jesus, a builder himself, understands the process. In Luke 6 he says, “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.”  Jesus recommends exactly what my neighbor was doing – pouring a new foundation on bedrock.

For Jesus, it is a metaphor. He says the bedrock we need is his words – put into practice. In Philip Yancy’s latest book, Vanishing Grace, Yancy recounts a conversation with a Harvard student who had heard Mother Teresa speak. He writes, “One by one the world’s luminaries come to that school, often failing to impress the cynical students. This time a wrinkled and withered woman in a nun’s habit, so diminutive that she had to stand on a box to reach the microphone, didn’t even try to win over her audience.”

Mother Teresa, as a practitioner of the words of Jesus, challenged the inadequate foundation of their lives, telling them “they lived in a culture of death, that they were surrounded by false gods of material wealth and sexual pleasure, and that most of them would probably forfeit their lives in search of success.” When she finished her scolding, they gave her a prolonged standing ovation, but why?

Could it be that as she exemplified Christ, they saw the foundation they wanted? She said their old foundation was inadequate, and they were forfeiting their lives. Jesus says of the house built on bedrock, “When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”

We live in a stormy time, but Jesus is still offering a solid foundation to build on. When we live by his teachings, we can survive whatever life brings.

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