A building is only as sturdy as its foundation. The same can be said for a life.
Those who design buildings give careful attention to the foundation required for any project they undertake. They study the ground on which the building will be built, and meticulously plan for the composition of materials needed to lay an adequate foundation that will make the building stable and secure. There will be stresses exerted on the building that can only be withstood with a proper foundation.
This is also true of a human life. We can only withstand the stresses we endure when the foundation we are building our life on is designed and built with the right materials. A building’s foundation is constructed using brick and mortar and steel and cement to fashion a foundation that will support thousands of tons of weight. A life, on the other hand, is built with choices, values, and beliefs that are made and embraced from a person’s earliest years. And what material is used in making and embracing those choices, values, and beliefs? Jesus told us in Matthew 7, and the writer of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” made it clear as well.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 ESV). All the material needed to build a strong and vibrant life is found in the Word of God. But just like a builder must put his knowledge of construction into action, so a person must put his knowledge of God’s Word into action. It is not enough just to know. As James writes, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only . . .” (James 1:22 ESV). When we put what we know from God’s Word into practice, we can then be assured of God’s strength in our daily lives.
“Fear not; I am with thee. O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I will strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.”
A proper foundation gives a building the strength to bear the weight of all that is built on top of it. We, too, have internal stresses – “deep waters” as the hymn writer puts it – sorrows, trials, and distresses – that we must bear, and for which we need the solid foundation of God’s infallible Word.
“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
In Matthew 7, Jesus talked about a house facing rain and floods and wind. Buildings are built to withstand pressures in the atmosphere and from the shifting of the ground. So, it is in our daily living. Forces come to bear on us that would cause us to crumble were it not for the “grace all-sufficient” that is our foundation.
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”
My friend Bruce Van Patter, in his column 8:18, wrote recently about finding an old church building that had been built in the mid-1800s. While no longer in use, it is still standing, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When we see a building that has stood the “test of time,” we know that it was built well. When we see a person in their later years whose life has been lived well, we know that such a person has known the “sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love” of the God whose Word they have lived by.
“Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when silver hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.”
Jesus said that the house of the wise man felt the brunt of rain and floods and wind. They “. . . beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25 ESV). You and I at times feel like “all hell” has been unleashed upon us, but our confidence need not be shaken. If we have built the foundation of our lives on knowing God and His Word, and obeying God and His Word, then we have his promise that He will “never, no, never, no, never forsake” us.
“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake.”
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