Last spring our church began the ambitious project of building an addition to meet the needs of our congregation and to provide a gathering place for our community. A lot of planning centered around assuring that the foundation would be strong. In fact, someone was so convinced of the need for the concrete to be unquestionably strong that they donated extra money to increase its thickness by one inch. It's not wise to skimp on foundations. A building needs a good foundation!
In life we also face foundation and building issues. On what foundation do we build our life? What foundation do we give our children? What priority do we as a family, community, state and nation place on good foundations for people to build their lives upon? Too often society and policy makers at all levels focus on punitive consequences rather than funding or focusing upon foundations. Good foundations can dramatically change the outcome. For example, early intervention and foundation-building in a child's life may prevent a ``building collapse'' as a teen-ager or young adult. Too often society's lack of understanding or ``foundation-building'' result in needless pain, alienation and, in far too many cases, prison.
The Bible has over 440 references to building issues. Some relate to structure while others have to do with relationships, interaction, respect for differences, as well as other helpful insights for building a life upon a strong foundation.
We spend far too much time discouraging one another and finding reasons why it isn't possible to create a good foundation. I Thessalonians 5:11 gives us a helpful building perspective, ``Therefore encourage one another and build up each other as indeed you are doing.'' Are we being the good builders God wants us to be? I Corinthians 3:10 reminds us that, ``Each builder much choose with care how to build on the foundation of Christ.'' If only we could divert the energy society wastes in tearing down to the building up of people.
We need a ``building boom'' in our lives. Isaiah's vision can be our vision: ``Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people's way . . .'' (Isaiah 57:14). We need to work together so that individuals, churches, communities and social service agencies are not obstructing, but constructing a good foundation upon which to build lives so they can experience dignity and hope.
When a good foundation is in place we have a basis for solving the building problems that come our way. We will not always agree on the architectural realities of how to build upon a sound foundation. But there is room for our differences if we will build a foundation using the love of God as our resource.
God wants us to build our lives on a foundation that is given strength and ability through his presence in our lives. May our faith journeys be a ``building in progress.'' May we seek new levels of cooperation within and among churches and community as we let God guide us in building strong foundations for all God's people.
The Rev. Larry Rorem is the pastor for Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.