Every building needs a foundation. Concrete is used to support both skyscrapers and single family homes. There is a strategic mixture that involves cement, sand, gravel and water. Mix it improperly and you have the wrong consistency and it doesn't work like it's designed to. It's interesting to me how we need the same balance in our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Forget One and the relationship doesn't work like it's designed to either.
I recently learned that even if the ingredients for concrete are mixed properly, there are still things that can happen that result in a ruined foundation. If the wood frame to support all of the ingredients is removed too soon, your foundation will fall apart. If the concrete dries too quickly, freezes, or if you use the wrong size rebar for the project, your foundation can be ruined and you have to start over.
What kind of foundation are you building on in your walk with the Lord? Are you leaving out a critical part of what's necessary for the right consistency? Is what you're building looking a little tilted or weak? Is it taking a blow and threatening to collapse under the weight of the stress?
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NIV
I read this scripture yesterday and found myself frowning. It wasn’t so much the text as it was the quiet voice inside of me as I read it. “Samantha, what are you building on?”
We know we can’t build a house on sand. We know we can’t build an office building on gravel. It has to be concrete. Why do we think we can build our faith on religion? Or good deeds? If our walk with the Lord is built on anything other than Christ it will be as effective as building on sand. It will fail.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I began to see just how twisted was the building I was creating. It was all about me and the image I wanted to portray and it had nothing in common with the plan God had for my life.
“…It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames, (1 Corinthians 3:13b-15).
“(All kinds of trials) have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).
God allowed many trials to act as the refining fire of my faith. He allowed trials to burn what I’d built on a lopsided foundation to the ground. My marriage was unable to stand the test and we divorced. Most of the friendships I had in place that I considered family went up in smoke. My dreams became charred remains with nothing but the dream and the whisper of a promise lingering in the air in the silence of the inferno. Little remained, but what was left was established on the Rock.
The word for “burned up” in the Corinthians passage literally means to “consume wholly” in the Greek. The word for “fire” used in both scriptures is the same in the Greek, which is still “fire.” In the International Bible dictionary it’s usually the symbol for Jehovah’s presence and the instrument of His power, whether in approval or destruction.
Going back to the question God asked of me yesterday, “Samantha, what are you building on?” I knew the answer was Jesus Christ. I also knew that God had, in His goodness, consumed wholly things that were built on the lopsided portions of my foundation so I could lay it right.
Some things need time to set properly before they can be ready for the next step. Force the process to move too quickly and you can ruin it. In my life, God has shown His love for me in that He refuses to allow anything to be built on a foundation of Christ with the PVC pipe of religion and the copper coils of striving where the rebar of my heart and grace should be.
Too often we think a trial is an attack from the enemy, when often it can simply be God’s mercy allowing a refining fire to burn off what could one day ruin what's being built. It’s His mercy that He allows fire to consume what you’re building in haste in order to draw your attention to the foundation that needs work.
Are you building on the wrong thing? Are you using the wrong materials? Ask Him.
Sometimes, in His mercy, He allows a structure to stand as we dig around the foundation to get to the cracks that threaten collapse. Other times He lets the whole thing fall apart in order to get to the real issue and start over. He’d rather have you show Him a single story studio built on a sure foundation than a fifty-story skyscraper that goes up on flames on the Day of Judgment.
Don’t skip over what God’s bringing to your attention and mistake his kindness and mercy for approval. His kindness is meant to bring to repentance, not to encourage us to continue doing things we know we shouldn’t to see how long we can get away with it. Don’t wait for a better time to start addressing it. There’s never a better time than today.