06 July, 2007

Rippin' Up The Street

My family lives in a home that is in a historic part of town. That's the chic way of saying, it's an old neighborhood. Our home was built in the 1880's. It's actually a really nice neighborhood and has been marked as a "historic" area by the powers that be. (I have not a clue who determines such things.) Our street is made of brick rather than asphalt or concrete, and right now, they are ripping up the entire street and re-doing the road with brick that came from a very historic building that burned about 18 months ago. (An interesting side note, Ronald Reagan once sold shoes in that old building when he was a youth.) The bricks are important to the people of this area, because they were made in East Galesburg, a neighboring town, where my church is now located. This brick factory has been closed for years, and I really don't know why they continue to fuss so much about these bricks... but hey, it's important to the locals here. (Some of them anyway.)

Anyway, as I was saying.... they are ripping up our road and re-laying it right now. This project is a real pain, as they have closed the portion of the road in front of our home and we cannot get to our house for then next 5 weeks or so. We are having to park on the next block over and cut through our neighbor's yard. She's very nice about this, and in fact has allowed us to park one of our van's in her drive so we don't have to walk so far. Some of our neighbors are not so lucky and are having to park a block away, so I feel blessed.

Hang with me... I really am getting to a point... My mind is just kind of rambling on today, which is a good thing, since I have had a bad case of writers block for the past several weeks.

Now for the purpose of all this information.
As the workers began ripping up all the bricks in our street, they have found some surprises. One thing, which has stretched the cost and time of this entire job, is that when they got all the brick ripped up, there was nothing underneath but a soft dirt. They expected to find a foundation of gravel, but it just was not there. Because the foundation of gravel was not there, when they drove the heavy trucks and equipment onto this soft ground, they collapsed the sewer system beneath it.
Now remember, this neighborhood is old. My home is at least 120-130 years old. So, I am thinking, what did they expect to find? I mean, a system of sewers and road work built in horse and buggy days was not built to sustain the weight of these monster trucks and equipment. But hey... what do I know?

As they are rebuilding all this, they are now laying in several inches of gravel topped by about a foot of concreted, on which they are laying the brick. (Gotta confess here... as I watch this, I'm thinking... "OK, you have put a foot of concrete down... why not make this a concrete road? But again... what do I know?"
But to my point again...
I looked at this foundation, and I thought to myself... this road will be here a long, long time. The road before was uneven and had many dips and brick that angled one way as opposed to the next one which had shifted and angled another way. Over the years, the road kind of sunk slightly in some places and was uneven and sloped to the sides because the ground had sunk in places. That won't happen in this new one. And as I stood looking at this foundation on which they were building the new road, I was reminded of the story Jesus told in Matthew the 7th chapter. In this story, Jesus said that who ever heard his teaching and lived by them would be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock, so that when the rain and floods came and the winds blew, that house will stand. Likewise he said that those who heard his teaching and refused to live by them would be like one who built his house upon sand, and when the storms came, the house fell flat. Now I have heard this, taught and preached on it many times about how we must build on the rock (Jesus) if we want to stand, but something new hit me as I observed this work taking place. When the foundation was not right, the fall was not immediate. It stood for a long time. It gave and bent at times and was not what it was supposed to be, but it stood... until the real weight came upon it... and then it collapsed. And when it did, it effected nearly everyone that lived on that block, as their sewers were shot and had to be re-built. I began to think about how that if our foundation is not established and firm in Christ, we might "make it" for a time, maybe even a long time, but at some point, our lack of foundation is going to have a major impact.
Jesus said of that foolish person who built his house on the sand, that when the rain and floods came and the winds blew, that his house fell flat; but then he added, "and great was the fall of it." I realize that there is significance to those words. The fall will not be a side note somewhere... it will be great and noticeable to all... and most likely effect others as well.

I've thought on this for over a week now, and I find myself thinking and wondering, "How many seem to have it all together, but if the outer layer were ripped away as the bricks on this street were, it would be exposed that there is an improper foundation?" This hit home to me last night when I watched a video tape of a preacher who I have often listened to and really liked, but in this message, he denied the fact that Jesus is God. If you strip that important fact away from the Gospel message, then the entire Bible is a lie. I don't care how big this man's congregation is, or how successful he seems from our perspective... his foundation is flawed, and therefore will not stand. He may make it throughout his entire life appearing to be a huge success, but there is coming a day when we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, and "the bricks will be ripped away" and the foundation will be exposed. And it's what God thinks and sees that counts, not the wealth and cars and the number of followers. I pray this man's eyes are opened and that he goes back and rebuilds his foundation.

As for me, I will take the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite old hymns states it well:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

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