FoundationsFebruary 1, 2024 Newsletter: Messenger
Full disclosure here: my house has foundation issues – ugh… Built more than fifty years ago, the home that my family has lived in for more than twenty-five years needs help. There are stress cracks around some of the cinder block basement walls, and there are some cracks visible outside as well. The area here has lots of marine clay, which is a nasty shade of gray-green, and can exert great pressure on foundations. This can be one of the causes behind foundation problems, and there are other causes as well. A number of other homeowners in my neighborhood have had to deal with this issue, including very recently, my next-door neighbors. So what’s the fix? It involves exterior excavation around the foundation, installing support piers to stabilize the walls, applying new waterproof membrane materials around the exterior walls, grinding out the cracks inside and re-tucking these with new mortar. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Right! The needed repairs are now underway by a very skilled and qualified contractor and crew who know what they’re doing. This is not their first rodeo. The work will take as long as it takes because it needs to be done right. Is all of this expensive? Let’s just say that we won’t be taking any big vacations for awhile! Any such project is going to be expensive, of course, but unless this work is done, the problem will just get worse and worse. We look forward to the repairs being done, and the peace of mind knowing that the foundation of our home is secure and sound.
All of this has made me reflect on the importance of foundations – not just for the homes we live in, but for our lives. A few passages from Scripture come to mind:
- “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
- “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
- “Unless the Lordbuilds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
- “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21).
The truth is that the foundation of our lives can crack and crumble just like the foundation of a house can. When stress and pressure are exerted on our lives, we find out what we’re made of. We find out how well our foundation is holding up. In Jesus’ well-known parable cited above about the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV - Build Your House on the Rock - Bible Gateway), the wise man isn’t spared from the storm. He has to endure this just like everyone else. But his confidence is that he knows his house is built securely on the rock that will not move. There are at least two take-aways here: 1) this is a call to build our lives on the rock and foundation that will not move, which is Christ; and 2) don’t expect that just because we do build our lives on Christ that we will be spared from the storms of life. The Word of God makes clear that the Lord uses such experiences to test and strengthen our standing on the foundation that is Christ (Mark 4:35-41; 1 Peter 4:12-19).
It can be very easy not to see what we don’t want to see. If there are cracks in the foundation of our life, we can go to great lengths to avoid dealing with this hard truth. Sometimes, we will do everything in our power to deny that such things are there. But sooner or later, the cracks catch up with us as the foundation starts to crumble and the walls begin to fall. This can be a very uncertain and painful time. What do we do? How do we go forward? A big word in Scripture is repentance. Sometimes we think this word means just contrition; you know, feeling sorry for the evil we have done or the good we have failed to do. But it’s much more than that. Repentance means a change of heart and mind that leads to a turn-around in life. It means walking in a new direction, all through the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Adam and Eve found out that you can run, but you can’t hide from God (Genesis 3:8ff.), and neither can we. Repentance is all about coming clean with God about ourselves, including our trying to build the foundation of our lives on something other than God. Sooner or later, all of these false foundations will be revealed for what they really are: false foundations. They don’t hold up because they can’t hold up. God has a better – much better – plan for us.
God’s plan for our lives centers in the life of his own Son, Jesus, who came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus came to live a life of perfect obedience to his Father’s will and purpose. Try as we might to do this, sin holds us back and derails our efforts to do our Father’s will and purpose. We fall again and again. But wait – there’s more! Jesus also came to give his life as the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins – the evil we have done and the good we have failed to do. Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God whose blood takes away all our sins (John 1:29). All that Jesus has done for us becomes ours through faith in him – his perfect obedience, the sacrifice for sin. It’s all ours now through faith in Jesus, and this becomes that sure foundation on which we can build our lives. This is the foundation for living, in time and in eternity.
The 40-day Lenten season begins this month on Ash Wednesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day this year). I invite you to experience the joy and peace of knowing that your life is built on that one true foundation, which is Jesus. During the Lenten season, the theme for preaching at St. John’s is entitled, “Journey to Joy,” as we focus on the journey Jesus took which led him to the cross, and the joy of salvation that we have in him. Midweek Lenten worship services will be held on Wednesdays at 12 Noon. Both Sunday morning and Wednesday noon worship services will be livestreamed at St. John's Lutheran Church: Alexandria, VA > Live Streaming (sjlc.com). An online Lenten Bible study will also be held on Thursday evenings as we look at the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. If you’d like to be part of this online Bible study, please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Lenten devotional materials are available through Lutheran Hour Ministries (https://www.lhm.org/lent/).
Until next month – in Christ the one foundation.