Don’t Build Your House on a Sinkhole

I always loved playing in the sand box as a kid, making tiny rivers and mud holes in the backyard with a hose, and playing with those percolation experiments where you pour water into a box filled with different types of soils and gravel to test how long it takes the water to soak into and then pass through the material.

As we grow up, though, we may no longer enjoy playing in the sand, but if our house begins slowly sinking, we may suddenly again be interested in what is in the ground beneath us.

There are layers and layers of materials below our feet right now, such as in the “Soil Layers” picture at left. Depending on where you live on earth, if you begin digging a hole in your yard you will find a unique variety of soils, clay, sand, and rock. There may be a thick layer of limestone formed from dead shellfish and crustaceans. There may be volcanic rocks and hardened ash from a history of volcanic activity. There may be ancient civilizations buried beneath you, complete with ruins of old structures and fossils of extinct animal species. All of these layers can degrade and get weaker and collapse depending on what is above them.

This interests me as a civil engineer. If you want to build anything on a piece of land or find a source of water for a well, it is essential to know what is beneath you. If you start digging immediately, you may strike a pipe or electric cable. Or if you build your house on top of a sinkhole, it may begin sinking gradually or collapse unexpectedly such as in the picture above.

It may seem obvious, but whatever is underneath a structure is going to affect its stability. Said differently, a foundation is incredibly important and determines the success and durability of whatever is built on top of it.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of the foundation on which your house or school is built. This could have major consequences. Similarly, this thinking process has had a big impact on me as I’ve thought about what beliefs and ideas my LIFE is built on. Who am I? What should I be doing with my life? What brings me joy and how should I live. How do I deal with this and that? I really want this to change, but how? All these questions are based on a foundation of some sort.

As a Jesus-follower, my whole life has been changed by the hope of a do-over, a new life and purpose and meaning in being obedient to Jesus and the joy and forgiveness that he offers, so I’ll share something he said since it impacts me:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” I have found that it is a NEED, a DESPERATION and a “this-is-not-going-to-work-unless-you-come-through” attitude toward him. And He loves showing Himself to us in those times because that’s when we’re actually ABLE to see and notice what He is doing in and around us. I need Jesus to be more than just a teacher in my life. He is not just a teacher. He is the Son of God. And if I think I can just learn from some of the things that he said and not let Him be the foundation of my life, it will be as if I built my life on a sinkhole that is bound to collapse beneath me.

Instead, by surrendering myself to God’s will I want the foundation of everything that my life is built on to be a poverty of spirit – a need for God and a hunger to be satisfied in Him and bring Him praise in everything I do. I’m so thankful for the daily help He offers to give and for the second chances and power He gives in our weakness and need so that we can stand strong in Him.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from “My Utmost for His Highest,” a daily devotional reading by Oswald Chambers. This one is from July 21st:

“Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain… But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teachHe came to make me what He teaches I should be. The redemption means that Jesus Christ can place within anyone the same nature that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives us are based on that nature.

…The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you . . .” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.”