The house didn’t look like much the first time we saw it. Overgrown trees and bushes crowded the drive, obscuring the front walk and much of the house itself. The realtor had told us it’d been vacant for more than a year. By the looks of it, the house had been neglected for at least a decade before that.
Leaving the pitiful landscaping behind, the realtor unlocked the door and we went inside. With a quick glance, we realized the interior needed work as well. And several days later, a home inspection revealed the home needed far more than cosmetic help. A new roof. New stucco and exterior paint. An overhaul of the septic system. Repair of water damage to the hardwood floors. Replacement of multiple broken windows and an inoperable air conditioning unit. And those were just the big items.
Even so, we remained undeterred. We’d seen homes like this before. In the years we’d been married, my contractor husband and I have remodeled three homes just like this one.
“It has a good foundation,” he told me, after reviewing all the facts. And that’s all I needed to hear. Because we both knew that what mattered most was not the house itself as much as the foundation on which it sat. As long as a house was solid at the base, we could take care of everything else. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing in the seventeen months since we moved in.
In Matthew 7, Jesus tells the story of the wise and foolish builders, a story I’ve loved since I was a little girl in Sunday school:
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. 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. 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. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
Similar to a house, the life of faith will face storms. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And although day-to-day upkeep matters and a good attempt at interior decorating will transform the inside into a thing of beauty, what makes a life strong and secure has little to do with wallpaper, paint colors, and a good solid cleaning. It is not the cosmetic fixes that hold up a life of faith, but what sits at its foundation.
I have a question for you, and it’s not an easy one. In fact, I want you to spend a few moments considering it, with as much honest self-reflection as you can muster:
If someone performed a home inspection on your life, what would they say about the foundation of it?
As much as I want to believe my foundation would prove sound, I’m not so sure. Any one of the following could be said to be my foundation:
- A happy marriage
- Whole and healthy children
- Ministry and service
- Hard work and determination
- Financial security
- Being a “good person”
Although this list might, at first glance, seem good or even noble, none were meant to be the foundation of a life. Every single one is sand, not a Savior. And if my life is built on these things, if my sense of security and hope is wrapped up in marriage, children, my own hard work, and a daily sense of happiness, all it will take is a storm in one area to take the whole thing down.
Why? None can save me. And not one will last.
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
Psalm 18:30-32 (NIV)
Friends, there is nothing wrong with a life filled with family and ministry, service and kindness. Heaven knows this world could use a whole lot more simple goodness. But make no mistake: none of those things are strong enough to secure your life. You and I need a foundation bigger and stronger. And the good news is there is no Rock like our God.