I’ve spent the better part of the last six weeks making cosmetic repairs to the interior walls of my house in preparation for putting the house up for sale later this year. The biggest problem so far has been the number of cracks in the sheetrock in my living room that require attention. When we added on to our living room 15 years ago, the sheetrock work was some of the sloppiest I’ve ever seen. I actually had to run off the sheetrock guy who was doing the work and had to have the general contractor bring someone else in. On top of that, the framer used 16 penny nails instead of wood bolts to attach the new structure to the existing structure. As the house settled, the nails backed out which caused the new addition to pull away slightly from the old structure. The result was a long crack in the sheetrock that ran all the way from top to bottom. To fix that, I had to cut the sheetrock away at the joint where the old and new framework are joined together so I could bore holes through the frame and reinforce it with steel bolts. Basically, I bolted the two halves of the house together.
Of course, here in Texas, cracks in sheetrock walls are nothing new. If you live in a house that was built about 20 years ago or more, slab foundations are notorious for shifting and moving around on the unstable soil that’s common in this region. And that often results in cracked walls. If you’ve ever lived in California or any earthquake prone region, cracks in sheetrock are inevitable.
But getting back to my home repairs, the cracks didn’t start showing up right away. In fact, it was several years before I noticed tiny hairline cracks beginning to form where the new addition and the old part of the house come together. In our case, the problem was twofold. In addition to the contractor’s shoddy workmanship, we also had an unstable foundation. Both of those problems ended up being costly in terms of time and money, but had they not been addressed, there would have been even bigger problems at some point down the road.
Even though the cracks didn’t form overnight, the problems that caused them were set in place long before they became visible. The contractor using nails instead of lag bolts to secure the frame was one problem. The other problem, the foundation, was simply the result of the type of concrete that was available and the building methods that were used in 1971 when our house was built. Newer homes with post tension concrete slab foundations don’t experience these types of problems. But in our house, as the cracks began to form, they became visible indications of problems that already existed but didn’t become apparent until later.
Of course it stands to reason then, that if you want a home that’s well built, a solid foundation and sound framework are essential. Jesus used that analogy in the sixth chapter of Luke to show us how to build something far more valuable than any earthly dwelling. Jesus said, “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.”
Those of us who have put our hope and trust in Jesus Christ have built our lives on a foundation that can withstand the worst storms that life can throw at us; storms that come at us in the form of temptation, persecution, bad news, or some other kind of hardship. Even in great distress, our joy, and comfort, and peace are secure, even if it doesn’t seem so in the moment. That was what Jesus was telling those around Him. We might get battered, but we will not be destroyed. Regardless of whether we’re building a home or trying to build a life for ourselves, a solid foundation and sound structure are essential.
As for the other type of person Jesus spoke of, the one who built his house on the ground without a foundation, those are the kind of people who are ill prepared for adversity when it overtakes them. Without anything solid to stand on, they collapse when catastrophe strikes. And without that solid foundation of faith in Christ, their destruction is assured, as is the fate that awaits them.
There’s another condition that affects people that’s sort of like what I described in those first few paragraphs about my home repairs. Here’s a question for you: What causes cracks in the first place? The answer is simple really. Stress. All too often, you don’t see the effects of stress right away. It builds and builds until finally, things start to crack. Inside the walls of a house, stress can build up because of problems lying underneath. You know what? We’re really no different. Paul wrote of the battle between the flesh and the spirit in the seventh chapter of Romans. Sometimes it’s due to outside forces that are beyond our control that cause that battle to intensify. Other times it’s because we allow sin to creep into our lives. Either way, the stresses begin to build until finally, something has to give. The stress may not be readily apparent, but it’s there.
Let me throw some hypotheticals at you. Let’s suppose for a moment, brother or sister Christian, that you get involved in something that you should not be involved in. Or let’s say there’s some sin in your life you’re trying to keep hidden. Or maybe you’re not doing anything wrong but you work for a boss who is pressuring you to do something at your job that you know is unethical. Whatever the underlying cause is, the stress is building. It may not be evident at first, but there will come a time…..when it will become very obvious…..that there’s something very wrong. That thing you’re involved in may become common knowledge. The sin you’ve tried to hide might be exposed. Or you might have to take a stand and refuse to do that unethical task your boss tried to force you to do and you end up losing your job. When the stress reaches a certain level, things will begin to crack, regardless of who you are, or what you may or may not believe. And when the cracks form, they can manifest themselves in an infinite number of ways. If not properly addressed, it can be quite costly and lead to even bigger problems down the road. That’s especially of sin in our lives.
For believers in Jesus Christ, here is the good news: We can be restored. The Bible tells us in 1 John 1, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We might have to make some repairs. There may be a relationship that has to be fixed. We may to have to seek the forgiveness of a family member, neighbor, or co-worker. And some of the temporal effects of sin may last the rest of our lives. Even after repairs are made, you can sometimes see where the cracks used to be. But whatever it takes, it’s important that we rebuild our fellowship with God. Foundations can be fortified, and structure can be strengthened through everlasting faith in Jesus Christ and it’s our unshakable faith in Christ that lays the foundation both for this life, and the eternal life to come.