Before I moved to Utah, I lived in Arizona for ten years and before that Nebraska, where I was born. Last year, I went back to that tiny town in the middle of America, where my grandfather spent his whole life working and building his farm. It’s where my parents met each other and where they started their life and family together. I went back to “help” (I say that loosely because I didn’t feel like I was much help) with an auction that my grandpa was having. He was selling off all of his old farm equipment because he is too aged to farm anymore.
The trip was a whirlwind of nostalgic memories from my young childhood. I think my favorite part of the trip, however, was something my uncle showed me. He came up to me on the day of the auction with a smile beaming across his face. “I have something I have to show you,” he said with an undeniable excitement in his voice. He had recently purchased Grandpa’s second house located in town. A house that I had more memories of than probably anywhere else.
“You have to come by the house as soon as you can,” he said, “it’s something you’ll get a real kick out of.”
The next day I did just that. It was awesome connecting with my uncle and his wife again and looking through the house where we celebrated countless birthdays and holidays.
After the tour, he took me outside behind the house and showed me a concrete slab protruding from the house’s foundation. There cemented into the slab that once held the air handler for the AC unit was a tinny little handprint and my name roughly sketched next to it. I couldn’t believe it. I had no memory of leaving such a mark, let alone one that would withstand the test of time like this one had.
And then it hit me, very vague and fuzzy pictures of my dad working on my grandfather’s house and installing this pad. What a cool feeling, my name, my very handprint is a part of that house, and it will be as long as that part of the foundation stands.
All kinds of changes have been made to that house since I left my mark, and many will still come, I’m sure. Despite all of those changes, one thing will stay unchanged, the mark that I left. It’s something we all want to do. To leave a mark that will outlive us. We want to leave such an impression on the world that after we are gone, the evidence of our life and what it stood for will continue.
It reminds me of a story Jesus once shared in Matthew 7:24–27, which says, “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. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” It begs the question, what is the foundation you are building your life upon?
Our lives are made up of all kinds of things, just as a builder uses all sorts of different materials to build a house. Our lives are built on relationships, morals, and values we hold dear. It’s made up of the things we use to fill the time and the possessions we own. Even if your life is made of the finest things, it is for nothing if the foundation is not sound.
I’m no builder of houses, as you can probably guess, but even I know that if you don’t get the foundation right, then it is just a matter of time before it all comes crumbling down. And how true this is for so many people today. They focus on achieving the “American dream,” as it were, an endless pursuit of happiness that is often defined by what we can build rather than on what God has given us. We strive to have things and relationships that promise to make us feel fulfilled but usually cause more heartache and leave us feeling just as empty as before, if not more so.
Jesus uses this metaphor to teach us what matters in our life. We all know that even though the sun may be shining on you today, soon the wind will blow and the rain will fall, and at that moment, the house, your life will be tested — not based on its size or beauty but on the foundation that you built it on.
Let me tell you, Jesus is the foundation on which to build your life. He is the Eternal One. Our life is a vapor, but in Christ we have the opportunity to be a part of eternity. In Him, our names are etched, not in stone that will one day be consumed by fire, but in the Lambs book of life.
If your reading this, then it is not too late. Even if many of your years are spent, tear it all down and start anew on the Rock that is our salvation. If I die poor and alone, but I have Jesus, I tell you I die a rich man. If I die with all kinds of possessions and the respect of man, but am still in my sin, I can tell you I die as a poor wretch.
There is so much more I would like to say on this, but there is not enough paper or ink. Let me challenge you to examine the foundation of your life closely. Do not be lulled to sleep by the false comforts this world provides. Jesus is the only way. The shack on the Rock will outlast the mansion on the sand.
Trevor Rickard is an Associate Pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship.