[from my notes] a firm foundation.

One of my earliest memories is of watching my mom do her makeup. I’d watch her “put her face on” and wonder why each product was needed, how it worked, and how long it would last. When it was time for me to get to wear makeup, I wanted to use all of it. I quickly realized that eye shadow is too complicated and blush gives me anxiety. I’m pretty basic and I can put my full face on fairly quickly. There’s one product that my mother insists on and that I’ve grown to love, and that’s makeup primer.

If I want the colors to be what they’re supposed to be and for them to stay all up on my face for a full day, I need primer. That base needs a base; you gotta prep the ground for the foundation. I’m not a builder (in fact, that’s the furthest thing from my particular set of talents) but I have a funny feeling that you don’t just slap a foundation down without making sure the ground is good to go.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says that if we hear His words and act on them, we are like a wise man who builds his house on a rock. Our foundation is strong and sure, so that when the storms come our way, our structure won’t fall. I love the picture that Jesus paints here. When we take in His teachings and then act in a way that honors him, not even the strongest storm of life can deter us. We may experience job loss, deaths of loved ones, or any other terrible life event, but if we are firm in our faith, we can still stand strong in Him.

Matthew 7: 26-27 says, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Jesus is telling us that trials come in an “and…and…and…and…and…” kind of way. He doesn’t say, “Things will get real tricky for a little while, beloved.” Trials come like a mighty storm, where rain drops form into a flood and the winds will strike repeatedly, intent on destroying everything in their path. When this happens, that house doesn’t just slowly deteriorate over time. We’re not talking about paint chipping off bit by bit. And great was the fall of it. There is no doubt here – the house will fall. It will fall and it will be devastating.

Foundations are crucial in so many areas of our lives, not just in makeup doing and house building. You have to lay some ground work in order for relationships to be fruitful, whether it’s romantic, a friendship, or a working partnership. You can’t just throw something together and call it ready. Growing up in the church environment, I had this idea in my head that you accept Jesus and you’re given some kind of club card like at Sam’s. You just sign up and check in every once in a while and you’re ok. I thought I could pray sometimes, treat others the way I want to be treated only on Tuesdays, and still be able to stand strong and sturdy when the storms came.

Jesus Himself tells us that if we hear His words and we do them, we will be like the wise man. He doesn’t say we’ll be like the wise man if we act on His commands occasionally, if we do them. There’s a sense of consistency in that statement. We do them. In Matthew 7 alone, He tells us not to judge others and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Measure those areas in your life. How are you faring? Jesus isn’t saying we have to be perfect because we know that isn’t possible for us sinful people. However, we are capable of trying. We’re capable of awareness and repentance. We’re capable of building a foundation and maintaining it.

It takes time and energy in order to prepare ourselves for the next season in our lives.There are areas in my life that God is revealing to me that chip away at my foundation. He is convicting me of these distractions that are leading me toward the gate that is wide and easy and leads to destruction. (Matt. 7:13) We have to be ready for when the rains come and we never know when they will. If I decide to give Jesus the side eye instead of following and pursuing Him, just so I can go my own way for a little while, I won’t be ready for the next storm. My foundation will be weak and when trials come my way, the fall will be great. I’ve tried my own way; I’ve been the foolish man building on sand. And friends, the winds did blow and they did beat against me until there was almost nothing left. The only thing that remained was Jesus. He is always there, asking us to build again, asking us to hear and do.

My favorite makeup primer is a beautiful thing. It allows my makeup to be its best and to last all day long. I can face whatever the day will bring, be it rain or tears or lots of eye-rubbing, and trust that everything will stay where it is. But then the next day, I have to apply it again for a new day. I can’t expect whatever remnants remain from the previous day to last for another round. Daily pursuit of Jesus is the only answer to an imperfect foundation, an imperfect person. I can’t expect the church camp I went to in 7th grade to hold me over in my faith 12 years later. I need to take His commands to heart and act on them every day. The Lord’s love is never ending and His mercies are new every morning. (Lam. 3:22-23) Every morning, He is faithful again and always will be.

As I work on my own foundation (daily, if I’m honest), I pray God leads me closer to “the rock that is higher than I.” (Ps. 61:2) He is life and love and blessed assurance. Jesus, You’re my firm foundation. I know I can stand secure.