Building is a constantly surprising and educating process for us. The first stage of education has been the investment into the foundation. The foundation is the hidden part of building that we never really comment on. When was the last time you walked into a building and said ‘wow, I just love what you’ve done with your foundation?’ But we have been surprised at the bags of cement, the bricks, the reinforcing wire, the labour and the other resources that have gone in to raise our house simply to ground level.
In Malawi, where building code is limited there are varying degrees to which people invest in their foundations, many houses have little but packed dirt beneath their walls. And though a house may be nicely finished, it is not in the immediate appearance of the house that we become aware of the quality of foundation. But it is over many years of wet and dry seasons and life that the house begins to reveal the impact of its foundation.
A house with a strong foundation will have strong and unmoving walls. The signs of a weak or lack of foundation in Malawi are salt-damp creeping up the walls, cracks in the brickwork or plaster, sinking walls and even crumbing buildings.
There are many references to foundations in the bible; Luke 6 equates hearing and doing the word to building a strong foundation. 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2 talk about Christ being our only true foundation and cornerstone.
It struck us as we built the foundation that it is true for our lives that we can build without investing into a strong spiritual foundation in Jesus. And even without this foundation, we can stand, looking strong and well finished for some time. We might have a great education and career and look like we have it all together. But as Luke 6 highlights, when storms come year after year and we weather with the constant demands and battle of life. If our foundation is anything but Christ the water begins to rise up, the cracks descend and maybe we even crumble.
For us this has meant that at every stage of building the foundation we have acknowledged that even though this is our foundation of our house, it isn’t the foundation of our lives. The Lord is, and He will give and He will take away. He is our portion and provider and by His word we choose to live.
Our prayer is that in many years our house will still have strong walls standing. But much more so we hope that in many years we will still be as Hebrews 12 puts it ‘running with perseverance the race set before us’, because of the foundation we have in Christ.