January did not start easy. First came cleaning up after Christmas. Then came the bitter cold. On top of that, my husband, Dana, has been struggling to move a 4-ton, 24-foot shed. Two years ago, when we bought our house, it was sitting in the dirt beside the driveway, sunken in mud. Battered by rain and wind, it had slipped off its insufficient concrete supports.
Tearing the shed down and rebuilding would have been easier. But wanting to save money and materials, we hired an excavator to pull the shed into the middle of our driveway and dig out a foundation, which my husband poured in November. So far, it has been a five-month process. Week after week, as I’ve watched Dana struggle to jack up the shed and secure it with sturdy beams, one song has run through my head. If you grew up in Sunday school, you probably know it, “The wise man built his house upon the rocks…” Not to be confused with a Wiseman from Christmas, this wise man was a character in a story shared by Jesus.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock,” Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25 (NRSV). “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.”
The Greek word used here for ‘wise’ means ‘sensible’ or ‘prudent,’ in contrast to the foolish man, described in the following verse, who built his house on the sand – or Maine mud. When the rains came and the winds blew, the foolish man’s house fell. Ca-plat! Just like our shed.
In ancient times, one of the principal tactics for bringing about the collapse of a city’s walls was to tunnel beneath them. “If the foundation of the wall could be weakened, the superstructure would collapse,” explains The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament. For this reason, wise builders dug all the way to bedrock and supported the city’s walls with earthen ramparts to prevent tunneling.
Only now, seeing the frustration Dana has endured trying to move our shed, have I truly understood the importance of laying a solid foundation – not just when constructing a house or shed, but when constructing a life. Want to build your life on something secure? Check out Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew, a free source for sound building materials. The best time to lay a foundation is before you build. But as our sorry story shows, it’s never too late.
Hopefully, this weekend, we will manage to heave the shed back on its new foundation, once again, with the help of an excavator. And this spring, when the rains come and the winds blow, it will stand secure. The process has not been easy or cheap, but it will be worth it.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Connect at www.meadowrue.com