Building on a Good Foundation

Posted on Oct 5, 2014


When I was working in construction, building houses, I had an interesting experience that illustrates the importance of a good foundation for building a house that is straight and true. Typically, when our crew built a house, we would put in the foundation ourselves. But on one project, (in fact it was the house of the lady with the perfume, see September 28), my boss decided to have another crew do the foundation instead. So, after the foundation was in, we arrived to frame the house. It was essentially L-shaped with the garage forming one leg that extended perpendicularly toward the street and the main living quarters forming the other leg parallel to and back off the street.

We framed up the bottom walls and set the floor joists for the second story. Then, one afternoon my boss told me to start laying the sheathing for the floor. So I went to the front of the house, over the garage, where I would begin. I went to the left front corner of the floor, hooked my tape to the front box joist, and measured back along the side, 47 1⁄2 inches, and made a mark. Then I went to the right front corner and did the same. Then tacked in a nail, hooked my chalk line to the nail, ran my line out to the other side and snapped a line on the joists along which I would place the sheathing.

I laid the first sheet of plywood, brought it flush to the front left corner and tacked it down. Then I went to the back edge of the plywood, brought it flush along the edge and tacked it. Then I began to nail it on the joists flush with the line that I had snapped. It took about three sheets to span the width of the garage. When I came to the last sheet, I measured it to fit, cut it, and laid it in place. I nailed it at the front corner, but, when I went to nail it on the back edge it was off. Rather than being flush with the box joist along the side of the garage wall, like it was at the front corner, it was back from the edge about 3⁄4 of an inch.

I stood up and scratched my head. I must have mis-measured with I snapped my line so that the line wasn’t straight. So I re-measured but when I did I found that my line was only off, about, an 1/8 of an inch. Certainly not enough to cause the plywood to be 3⁄4 of an inch out of square along the side.

Still scratching my head I went and got my boss and told him my predicament. He came over, looked at the situation, and said, “Let’s go down stairs and take some measurements.” So we went down to the front of the garage, and took some measurements to see if the building was square. Of course we found that it was NOT square. In fact, it was out of square about 3⁄4 of an inch over four feet, which meant that over the entire depth of the house it would be almost a foot out of square. There wouldn’t be a square corner in the house. Everything would be off. And everybody from the sheet-rockers to the carpet layers and cabinet makers would be mad at the carpenters. We would have nothing but problems clear up to the ridge cap.

Obviously something had to be done. And so began a three-day process of adjusting walls on the foundation trying to square things up as best as possible. We never were able to square it perfectly, but we did manage to improve the situation.

People are like houses. Just as a house is built on a foundation, so also are our lives. Every life is built upon a foundation of thinking, of belief and understanding. That belief and understanding shapes our lives. It underlies the choices that we make, the actions that we take; the choices and actions that are like individual pieces of wood that, together, form the super-structure that is our lives.

Now, if our belief and understanding about the world we live in, about our lives in this world, about the purpose of life, what is important, what is right, what is not right, etc., is out of square, that is, it is not aligned with reality, with truth, like the foundation of that house, then the super-structure of our life will be off, and when the day of inspection comes, when we stand before the Lord, we will receive sharp and shameful criticism from Him. But, if the super-structure of our life is built straight and true on a foundation of belief and understanding that is square, that is true and right, then, on inspection day we will hear well-done. Having a foundation that is true is absolutely critical.

Of course, we understand that having such a foundation and building such a life is a work that God enables by His Spirit through His Word. It is not a project that we carry out on our own. And, again, we understand that it is not building a life straight and true that earns us acceptance with God. Our acceptance with God is a gift of His kindness that we receive by faith in Jesus Christ. Understanding those things, we recognize from the Bible the responsibility to live by faith; to believe God’s Word and to make choices and take actions that are true to Jesus Christ, and with those building blocks to build a life that is straight and true; that is Christ-like; that shows Jesus to the world, and, thereby, glorifies God.

To have a solid foundation, a foundation that is level and square we must be in God’s Word. We must know the truth that God has revealed in His Word. And, that truth must be embraced and become that which shapes our thinking. It is important for us to be in God’s Word regularly, even daily, learning truth, being reminded of truth, being encouraged and equipped with God’s truth so that as each day we make choices and take actions, building more on the house that is our life, we will build straight and true.

The Apostle Paul declared, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”—1 Corinthians 3:11. May God strengthen us by His Spirit and instruct us by His Word so that we may build straight and true on the foundation that is Jesus Christ.

Building together with you,

Pastor Guy