These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. Matthew 7:24-27 The Message
“Everything O.K. over there? I see the flags on your lawn?”
A kind inquiry from my next door neighbor to which I answered,
Tom and I had so much fun transforming three rooms in our home this summer. Moving furniture, painting, hanging new curtains, purchasing a few more throw pillows (can you ever have enough throw pillows?). I absolutely love the transformation that gave me a new home office and two guest rooms ready with clean sheets, scented candles and goodie baskets for anyone that needs a place to lay their head when passing through our town. Each time I walk by one of the newly renovated rooms I give a contented sigh, just so happy with the results. The work took a couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weeks of time – a fun summer project for my teacher husband that has time to kill in the month of July.
Recently as I was leaving the upstairs guest room I decided to close the door. I never close the door – there is no need to. But I did, or at least I tried. The door which normally closed quietly without effort, stuck. I mean when the door hit the frame it required effort on my part to pull all the way shut.
It was at that moment that I looked above the door frame to a crack that had been growing across the ceiling. We had it looked at a few years ago when it was smaller and we were told everything was fine – the effects of normal settling of a home. But I was pretty sure that at this new, closer inspection that the crack was bigger and had a little tributary crack branching off of it.
In another few moments, as I allowed my brain to think through the summer months of our fun home improvements, I remembered the popping. The loud cracks we had heard several times that seemed to come from the attic. New sounds. Sounds that were brief and intermittent making them easy to dismiss when there were so many other fun things to focus on. Like new throw pillows.
Doors that are hard to close, cracks in the ceiling, loud pops in the attic. These are the factors that often point to one thing…
We have learned that in our part of the world that our heavily clay soil does not respond well to draught. As it dries, it hardens and pulls away from the surface it is attached to. Our golf course and school soccer field are littered with large cracks in the ground. Our soccer coach told me that one year a student tripped on one of the cracks and broke his ankle. The effects are significant to say the least. As the soil as pulled away from the foundation of our home everything has shifted, everything is impacted and until we do something and do it quick, it is only going to get worse.
And buying another cute $25 throw pillow is not the answer.
It feels ironic that in preparation for our foundation fix that will cost us not hundreds, but thousands of dollars , that has required numerous visits from electricians, and gas company technicians to mark our yard with flags and spray painted markers indicating buried lines, one of the messages left smack in front of our home is…
Our foundation is not OK. Our Foundation Recovery Rep tells us we caught the problem early, that the price tag could be much higher. The work will be internal in a part of our basement that is unfinished so no need for outside landscaping or inside carpet to be torn up. If we would have waited the internal damage would have been much more significant, the cost doubled or even tripled. None of this is a surprise. I have several friends and neighbors that have already walked this road to which each time I have said “Whew, glad its not me.”
Have you ever done that before?
Witnessed someone else’s ‘foundation trouble’ and said, ‘glad it’s not me?’ and continued purchasing throw pillows overlooking the issues that may be happening right under your nose,
with your own foundation?
Gosh it is easy to judge and critique other peoples stuff. You know the stuff that would never happen to you, your children, your job, your marriage. The stuff talked about when meeting friends on an afternoon walk or put on the weekly bible study prayer list. The stuff that feels inconceivable and unbearable and you don’t know how anyone could live through the clean up…
Until it’s yours.
Until a season of draught reveals the truth of your foundation.
Until words you thought you’d never hear spoken about your life… are.
As I stood in my living room listening to the diagnosis of our foundation from the kind, straight shooting home technician I felt a sense of peace. It has been said that clarity is kindness. Now that we know the truth of our foundation situation we can begin the steps of solidifying and strengthening the very base that everything rests upon. It feels hard and it feels good.
As I clean out my storage area in preparation for our renovation this week my mind wanders to other places my foundation has been tested – in my personal and professional life. Have I been counting on cute throw pillow solutions to carry me through or have I spent time strengthening the one foundation that holds the promise of never letting me down? In Matthew Chapter 7 Jesus speaks clearly about the importance of building a life with his words, his truth. “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on.” He is clear that his blueprint for life building is the one factor that will determine if a life storm will make you stronger or knock you down like a “house of cards.”
Today I ask you the questions my neighbor asked me,
“Everything O.K. over there?”
Are their cracks and pops and sticky doors in your relationships, your work, your finances, your anything that you’ve been ignoring? Consider this an invitation to pay attention and listen close. It is only when the problem is diagnosed and the truth of the situation is clear that healing and rebuilding can begin.
Jesus – Our foundation. Our Savior. Our friend. He is the master carpenter, he has everything you need to start your own home improvement project, today. The revealing of our weakness shines a light on the power of his strength. The clarity of our own fragility forces our eyes to the solid ground on which Jesus invites us to build our lives.
Lean on Him.
Build on Him.