How's Your Foundation?
"I don't like sand. It's all coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere..." - Anakin Skywalker
Two things happened to me recently upon recalling these catastrophically unforgettable words from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The first is what happens every time. I dry-heaved a little bit.
The second, unprecedented and far more spiritually significant, was an immediate urge to meditate on Jesus' teaching on the contrasting foundations: one of stone, one of sand. Here's the full text as given to us by Saint Luke (6:46-49):
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”
Everyone builds his or her life atop a foundation of some kind. You could call it your innermost center, your most unquestioned assumptions, your most secure place of absolute certainty and faith. Jesus necessarily upsets the apple cart with this teaching. On the one hand, who would dispute the wisdom inherent in the image? Indeed a builder who builds upon the sand will never yield a sturdy finished product.
But if you ask me, the real question that seems to emerge from his words is this: What is MY "sand"? What is each one of us really about underneath it all? Behind every mask? When we think no one is looking? What are our deepest and most cherished treasures? What can't we live without on any given day? The phone? The attention? The pleasurable sensations? Or do we have a deeper foundation than that? Where does our most foundational loyalty lie? Who (or what) am I really devoted to at the end of the day?
Elsewhere the Scriptures wisely assert for us that "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build" (Psalm 127:1). Indeed, the Lord himself must be our foundation, and He himself is the architect, the builder, the principle agent in the construction of the fully authentic man or woman. He intends each of us to be. If we allow ourselves through weakness or deception to go about fashioning our whole life as though it could be held up and sustained by pride, lust, greed, vanity, resentment, or anything less than God himself, we will surely see the whole project come crashing down. It's only a matter of time.
If, on the other hand, we set out to establish ourselves on a firm foundation, one of love and truth and justice and mercy, a fundamental commitment to the truth that our lives aren't really about us at all, it will be well with our souls. "Listen to my words", He commands us, "and act on them." Let's start there and see how the project goes, shall we?