The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A foundation stronger than your circumstances

I work in the plumbing industry, which is really strange for me to say. That’s my full-time job. I write articles and brochures about my company’s pipe-joining systems for plumbing and heating in homes, commercial projects and industrial plants. Starting out in this job (three years ago March 22), I knew pretty much nothing about plumbing. I actually knew very little about the entire concept of creating a building from the ground up. And I can’t say I know everything now. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even say I know a lot. But I know so much more than I did.

But there was one aspect of building construction that I did understand and that was the concept of having a strong foundation. If a building doesn’t have a strong foundation, you’re asking for trouble. As I posted yesterday, Kansas is one of the windiest places in the world, and if your house isn’t firmly attached to something, one of those strong windstorms will blast through and take your house with it. It doesn’t even need to be a tornado.

But the same is true in life. If your life doesn’t have a solid foundation, the storms of life can rock your world. But they don’t have to be giant storms. Even little cracks in a foundation are a big problem. Just like everyday issues can chip away at you until you’ve become someone you never intended to be.

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:6.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Throughout January I’ve been posting about change and how to deal with change when it comes. And I suppose I should preface all of this by stating something obvious: Even if you have a strong foundation, life is still going to throw curve balls at you. Even if you’re firmly grounded, you still experience earthquakes. Just by having a strong foundation it doesn’t mean change isn’t going to have an effect on you; you’ll still experience it. But the strength of your foundation will determine how you handle the experience.

My property has a chicken house on it that was built probably in the 1940s. I’m guessing. There’s also a barn about 100 yards away from the chicken house. It’s a small barn. No loft. I’ve mentioned this a few other times before, but I experienced a ridiculous windstorm here in early November last year. That crazy south wind slammed into my chicken house and lifted it eight inches off its foundation, bent it backward and twisted it sideways. It’s a wreck.

That same windstorm did absolutely no damage to my barn.

Why?

Well, there are probably some other reasons, but I don’t think it’s wind break. Both the barn and the chicken house have about the same amount of trees between them and the open south pastures. Granted, the chicken house faces south, while the barn faces east with its side toward the south. But the strength of those winds should have shaken the barn up somehow.

My best explanation? The barn has a better foundation.

The chicken house was really just sitting on the dirt with some concrete poured around it. It was hand built by the family who first built our house, I think. In any case, it wasn’t exactly a professional job. Neither was the barn, for that matter, but it was built much later. And while I don’t know the state of its foundation, it’s a bigger foundation than the chicken house in any case. So when they face the same damaging wind storm, the chicken house gets bashed to pieces because its foundation isn’t strong enough to support it.

Foundations are–well–foundational. If you don’t have something strong to build on, the whole of your structure will suffer. But foundations can be deceiving too, because maybe you think your foundation is strong enough, but you don’t really know what it’s made out of. And you spend your life building on it, and then one day everything comes crashing down because you didn’t realize how weak it actually was.

Some foundations wear away with time. Or they erode. Or they just weaken. Maybe they started out strong, but as the years pass, they just wear out because what they’re made of isn’t a good enough material for building.

So if you’re going to build a life, why would you build on a foundation that’s uncertain? The economy and finances, human relationships, even yourself are uncertain at best. And if you try to build your life on those things, it’s all going to come crashing down. If you’re going to build your life on a foundation, you need to build it on something that doesn’t change. I know people who have gone through intense trouble. Deaths. Layoffs. Bankruptcy. You name a horrible thing, and they’ve experienced it. But in spite of it, they’re still standing strong. How is it possible?

Their foundation is stronger than their circumstances. Just like my barn, they have a foundation that is stronger than the storms they’re facing. They have chosen to build their life on the truth of the Bible, on the truth of God’s love, and on the faith that God knows what He’s doing and that everything He does is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

So check your foundations today. What are you building your life on? Yourself? Your friends? Your job? None of that is good enough. Build your life on Christ, the Rock that doesn’t change. And all that means is to make decisions based on what the Bible says. Live your life the way Christ did. And not only will your foundation grow strong enough to weather any storm, your life will change too.

The Schoolhouse at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Foundations

This is a photo of a 1900s era schoolhouse on my property. It was actually called the Friendship School, and the people who built my house in 1915 rolled it down to the property on logs with a mule team. They lived in it while they built my house, and after my house was completed they used it as a granary. Presently, I use it as a woodshed. And I’ve got to admit, I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen in yet. The roof is all but gone. The floors are all rotted out. But even in some of the worst windstorms that have blown through, even though bits of the roof let go and pieces of the wood siding flies off, the whole building hasn’t collapsed yet. Why? Well, the only thing I can figure out is that it has a strong foundation.

Strong foundations are essential for any type of building if you want it to last a long time. It can be sturdy and solid with strong walls and a good roof, but if the foundation isn’t strong, it won’t be able to withstand the storms that inevitably will come.

The Schoolhouse at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

The Schoolhouse at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 11:1-3.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
The wicked are stringing their bows
    and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
    at those whose hearts are right.
The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
    What can the righteous do?”

I posted about foundations during my family vacation this year. If you build on a foundation that is unstable, your building will be unstable. If your foundation collapses underneath you, your entire structure will collapse too. And it’s the same way with our lives. If we build our lives on something unsteady and changing, like the whims of culture or the fleeting desires of our own hearts, our lives will come crashing down at the first sign of trouble.

That’s why we need to build our lives on something that doesn’t change, God’s Word. God’s perspective. God’s truth. Our lives need to stand on what He says is right. We need to make our choices based on what He says is good. And we need to avoid the things that He says are wrong.

But the trouble with our world is that no one is building with God as the foundation anymore, not even in the Christian community. Even among Christians, it’s rare to find someone who is building their lives solely on God’s Word. And the people who do are called old-fashioned or closed-minded. But when the really hard choices come down (and they always do), who has the answers? When it comes time to make the really difficult decisions, who is solid and who wavers? Who compromises what is absolutely right?

Weak foundations require compromise. How else do you keep a building with a bad foundation standing? But compromise never makes anyone stronger. And once the storm comes and those foundations have collapsed, once that building has come crashing down, what’s next? What can you do?

All you can do is pick up the pieces and start again. Rebuild.

See that’s what’s awesome about God is that He lets us rebuild. If you read the Old Testament, it is a history of God giving second and third and forth and fiftieth chances to the people of Israel. How many times did they rebuild the temple?

God is awesome to give us the opportunity to rebuild our lives. And even if we didn’t start with a good foundation, we can always build a new one when we start over. But it’s so much easier if you start with a good foundation. Because even if you rebuild, you still have to clean up the remnants of what you built first.

I love the Message. So this is Psalm 11 in the Message.

 1-3I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of God.
   So why would I run away now
      when you say,

   “Run to the mountains; the evil
      bows are bent, the wicked arrows
   Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness
      at every heart open to God.
   The bottom’s dropped out of the country;
      good people don’t have a chance”?

 4-6 But God hasn’t moved to the mountains;
      his holy address hasn’t changed.
   He’s in charge, as always, his eyes
      taking everything in, his eyelids
   Unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood
      inside and out, not missing a thing.
   He tests the good and the bad alike;
      if anyone cheats, God’s outraged.
   Fail the test and you’re out,
      out in a hail of firestones,
   Drinking from a canteen
      filled with hot desert wind.

 7 God’s business is putting things right;
      he loves getting the lines straight,
   Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
      we can look him straight in the eye.