The Bare Soul - July 26, 2009
A Firmer Foundation

Matthew 7:25 - And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Colorado is one of my favorite places on earth. Our recent visit allowed me to spend some "quality time" casting artificial bugs and flies in some of the state's pristine waters. It's an invigorating experience standing knee deep in the middle of the Big Thompson River in Estes Park Colorado as it flows from Olympus Dam, fly fishing rod and reel in hand. One feels the power of the river as every attempt is made of keeping one's feet firmly planted so as not to be carried away by the current. The power of the moving water regards nothing in its path as it makes its winding journey down through Big Thompson Canyon as it has for millennia. I somberly respect the power of water as I have seen its devastation in this locale first-hand.

The date was July 31, 1976. On that day, Colorado experienced its worst natural disaster when 145 people lost their lives in what would come to be known as "The Big Thompson Canyon Flood". The water came with such ferocity after record rains that residents and visitors to the canyon could not escape. Hundreds of homes were either lost or damaged along with the incalculable loss of life. It would take months and years before folks would recover from the devastation. I arrived in Estes Park in October 1976 to attend Capernwray Bible School at Ravencrest Chalet. Perched high above Estes Park, the school was not in any danger of flooding yet the impact of the flood was inescapable to many of us attending classes that fall term. There was still much needed assistance in clean-up in the canyon, so several of us volunteered with a grass roots effort sponsored by the local churches of Estes Park - the Inter-faith Task Force of Big Thompson Canyon. During my volunteer trips into the canyon to assist, I was dumb-founded by the magnitude of destruction. Often, we would show up to help someone stack debris and the homeowner was just so overwhelmed they didn't know where we should start. It was a frightening scene even four months after the disaster. It made us tender-hearted toward those we were helping and gave us all a deeper appreciation for how life can be swept away in but a moment of time.

Quite often, it was evident which structures survived the flood by looking at their foundations. There were three foundations primarily used in the canyon -- masonry foundation walls consisting of either block or stone and concrete foundations. A third was timber. Of the two masonry foundations, the concrete or "solid" foundation had less failures than the cinder block or stone masonry. This was due to the density of concrete versus the pieced together mason work (masonry is only as strong as the mortar which holds it together). Of the three, timber foundations were overwhelmingly those which experienced the most devastation. As many of these were built on the sandy soil of the canyons basin, they were crushed under the overwhelming power of the torrent that rolled through the canyon.

In Jesus' parable of the two foundations in Matthew chapter 7, He tells us the familiar story of a man who built on sandy soil and one who built on the rock. As those in the Big Thompson understood after the flood the prudence of a dense, concrete foundation, so Jesus understood that one must build one's life on a depth of character typified by the solid rock. In doing so, one would be assured that the floods of life would not cause the irreparable damage caused by life's torrents. Flooding is quick and sudden and is not a respecter of anyone or anything in its path. Jesus warned us that the floods will come. As those in the canyon, many are given the opportunity in this lifetime to rebuild on a better foundation. Often, lives may be ravaged in both the physical and the spiritual sense. However, as long as we are still alive to rebuild there is always hope of recovery if we will but put our faith into action. Just as those in the Big Thompson pieced their lives back together little by little, so Jesus has given us all the opportunity to rebuild if we have built on faulty foundations. Some of us may take pride in our church membership, yet Jesus told the Pharisees that belonging to a religious order would never take the place of a relationship with the Living God. To build on anything other than Jesus' sacrificed life is to build on a foundation that will one day fail. Have we put our trust in money? This foundation also will fail us. Jesus said that to gain the whole world without Him in its center is the equivalent to building a foundation of timbers on sandy soil. It's not a matter of if it will fail but when.

While many of us may never experience the disastrous affects of a flood such as the Big Thompson in 1976, it is a guarantee that all of us will be buffeted by spiritual storms that will test our respective foundations. Jesus wants to "wreck" our lives spiritually if we are not founded upon Him. For while we are alive, there is hope of rebuilding upon a firmer foundation that will one day reveal to all our true character. Are we trusting in shoddy construction that is not reliant on the life of Christ that desires to dwell within? Or have we given over our lives to the Master Builder who desires to form in us a depth of character that only can come from Him? The storms of life, beloved, will reveal our true foundations. May we all rejoice in the strength of the Rock of our salvation, for there is salvation from life's floods in no other!

Lord Jesus, we thank you that you are the Solid Rock. In You, there is no firmer foundation in heaven or on earth. May we look to You to build our foundations according to Your will, trusting in no other but You. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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