Photo Credit: BlueLetterBible.org
Many years ago, I spent the summer doing construction on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. A group of older American teens and five adults comprised a team who would build a structure over the course of that summer. The building would house a church (and the pastor family would live in the loft). Only one of us had any construction experience but we all had received a couple of weeks training prior to leaving the States.
It was a marvel that we had such confidence (faith, really) to do such a thing.
After flying halfway around the world to Manila, we boarded a ship for an overnight journey south to Mindanao. On our arrival, we were greeted at port by a small group of very enthusiastic Filipinos. They carried us, by bus, straight to the construction site for a look-see.
We must have been the sight.
Eagerly tumbling out of the bus, we were struck speechless at building lot where we would erect a church. It was obvious where we were to build because it was the only open space surrounded by several houses on stilts. It was also obvious why no homes had been built there before.
Covering most of the building site was a tidal pool, and it must have been high tide. We blinked and stared at the deep salt-water pool, complete with small fish popping the surface of the water.
How could we build in such a place?
Photo Credit: NourishtheDream.com
Amazingly, we found that we could build there. A lot of engineering, which I don’t remember now, went into making the site dry (somehow rerouting the tidal water, pumping out the standing water, and filling in the area with dirt and rock).
Our project leader told us our most important job was to build a strong foundation. In this rural area, with more hands than construction companies available to us, we worked shoulder to shoulder with our new Filipino friends. Steel reinforcing bars were tied, and cement was mixed for days as we began pouring concrete footers. We poured a thick foundation and built up with cinder blocks.
I wish I had easily retrievable pictures from those hot summer days in Mindanao. The building went up and finally the sharply pitched roof was laid on.
On our last full day there, we celebrated our work together with those dear friends in that community. They would finish the last details of the building without us as we flew back to the US the next day.
I will never forget that first day, and the laying of the foundation, in particular. Such hard work…not to be short-changed. A year later, a violent typhoon hit that village, and we were sure the church must have been destroyed.
It stood through the storm.
How thankful I am for the sure foundation we have in God’s Word and His work in us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
A great old hymn, How Firm a Foundation, speaks powerfully about this strong support we have through the storms of our lives. Published in 1787, many have written hymn stories about it, but I refer you to the one written by Tim Challies. He also introduces the arrangement done of the hymn by the trio Ordinary Time.
Worship with me:
How firm a foundation, you Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you, who, for shelter, to Jesus has fled?
(In every condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.)
Fear not, I am with you; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid.
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
(E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sovreign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.)
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.*
I love the imagery of this great old hymn, and thinking about how saints of God for more than 200 years have worshipped Him through these lyrics. Artist Laura Kranz applied her own powerful imagery to this hymn. One image is featured below; the rest you can find at the Overview Bible Project.Photo Credit: Laura A. Kranz
Have a worshipful Wednesday. I pray you stand on such a foundation as God offers us. When we stood, that first day, on the building site…staring at a seemingly impossible task, a group of the church youth, sang a song of dedication. It was My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less. The chorus was perfect for that day: – “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
It was beautifully ironic as our eyes were riveted to the sight of that tidal pool – at the same time, listening to these precious young people sing about faith, not sight. How firm a foundation we have in Christ!
*How Firm a Foundation – Lyrics and Illustrations by Laura Kranz
Hymn Stories: How Firm a Foundation (+ Free Download) – Tim Challies
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