My husband and I are buying a new house. Well… new to us, it’s actually over 100 years old. Reading an inspection report on a home that was built in the early 1900’s can be a bit overwhelming. Time has a way of wearing things down. The first time we saw the house we could see that the floors needed refinishing, and the fixtures were out of date (and don’t get me started on the crazy wallpaper in the office), but it was what we couldn’t see that concerned us… the foundation.
About a month before we found the hundred year old house for sale God and I started an ongoing conversation about foundations, and cornerstones, and structures that provide support. In early December I wrote in my journal that I wanted 2019 to be a year where I focused on strengthening the basics, the foundations of my life. Humble spiritual disciplines like prayer and soaking in scripture. Basic physical habits like drinking water and getting enough sleep. And making space for the simple joy of time spent with friends sharing chips and salsa and conversation (‘cause everything is better with chips and salsa!).
So when our inspector told me he was going to spend more time examining the foundation on our house than he normally would on a newer home I knew how important it was. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what color I paint the walls if those walls aren’t secure. And it doesn’t matter what dining room table I buy if the floor isn’t strong enough to hold it.
When we received the 55 page inspection report we skipped ahead to the section marked “foundation and structural integrity” because we knew we had to start there. Thankfully houses built 100 years ago are held up by massive hardwood beams that are virtually indestructible. So now I’ve moved on to the fun task of picking out paint colors and hope to never have to look in a crawlspace ever again.
This process has made me rethink my conversation with Jesus about the foundation of my life. It’s had me asking Him over and over to examine me for structural integrity. I’ve been reflecting a lot on whether or not the core of who I am is solid, strong, and ready to be built on.
No one wants to crawl under a house and install bracing, not when you can be picking out furniture and paint instead. In the same way, no one wants to crawl into the depths of our hearts with Jesus looking for places that are cracked and crumbling. It’s so much easier to examine the surface of our lives.
We didn’t have to pay a guy to shimmy under every square foot of our house to check the foundation. We could have just moved in and hoped the uneven floors were due to normal settling and not a structural problem. And we can go on with our lives never once pausing to examine the integrity of our hearts. We can dismiss our harsh words and behavior. We can compare our actions to the coworker on the other side of the dividing wall, or that other mom at the soccer game. Or we can get really gutsy… put on some coveralls, grab a flashlight and a big stick (cause critters like to live in cold dark places) and we can crawl into our hearts with Jesus. We can let Him strengthen us where we are weak, and replace lies we’ve built our lives on with truth that sets us free. We can get dirty. We can face the dark places. Because we don’t have to face it alone.
I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was to hear that the foundation of our old house is secure. The minute I heard that I finally got excited about the process of turning the house into our home. There’s something about integrity that brings relief and security… in houses and in hearts.
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.” Psalm 119:1