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Rock Bottom

by Tim O'Hearn

Have you ever watched an old-fashioned construction site? You know, the kind you see in the movies. They put up a big wooden fence around it, but leave knot holes or even set up viewing holes. People love to watch the progress of construction. The company I work for is putting up a new hospital, and they posted construction updates on Facebook and their corporate web site. Some places now even put up a constant web-feed camera, so you can sit at your computer and watch the construction. For some people the most fascinating part of the job is the beginning. You start out with an empty lot of land, or better yet get to see them tear down an older building. Then they start digging. It can be fascinating watching the hole get bigger and deeper until you wonder how they will even get the equipment out of the hole. A lot of dirt gets removed, and for a very good reason. They have to dig down until they hit bedrock. The bigger the building, the more important that the foundation is on rock. (Well, at least that is what I am told.) For some houses they might be able to dig a trench, lay a concrete footer, and get away with building on that. A skyscraper requires more of a solid footing.

Jesus was not a builder, but he knew the construction business. He knew where the foundation had to be laid.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Notice that he did not say “if the rains came.” He said they came. It is not a question of whether we will face adversity, but of when. Hardships, trials, and temptations will come. That is part of life. Nor is it what we do when they come that matters. It is what we have done before they come.

Some people have a hard time facing hard times. Having no foundation, they turn to whatever strikes them as a solution. Sometimes it is drugs and alcohol. It may be suicide. These are the people who are sought out by various cults. Sometimes they simply go through a major funk. When the trials come they fall apart, like the foolish man’s house.

It may be significant that after quoting Jesus about construction, Matthew adds, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority.” (Verses 28-29) Why would this teaching astonish the people? Maybe it was that their own teachers did not speak about a solid foundation. Perhaps, in the common man’s mind, doctrine had become a matter of situation ethics. Jesus taught that there it was possible to have a solid, invariable doctrine, and that he was that doctrine.

Hard times would come. Like David, we sometimes think we are sinking in the mud. Jesus says, when you hit rock bottom, build your house upon the rock.