Running alongside my new patio is an old retaining built by the previous owner of our house. Years of snow and rain have left their mark and the wall is no longer straight and true; in fact it sags a good 10 cm at its mid-point. Clearly the foundation has failed and its failure has spread to a couple of the adjacent patio stones which are now also out of kilter.
My brother came for a visit last week. We have a wonderful time together, talking about our past adventures and looking to the future. We talked about our parents and how well they were adapting to their new home. We talked about our family and how much we enjoyed their company. We talked about how grateful we were for the firm foundation for life that our parents had given us when we were growing up. Then we talked about how sad the retaining wall looked and how its failure had spread to the patio.
I said that I had been avoiding the job as the stones, at about 40Kg each, were a bit heavy for one man to lift comfortably – particularly as there were about ten that would have to be removed to rebuild the foundation. “Well big brother,” he said, “how about we do it together?” About eight hours later the wall and patio stones were back in place – straight and true as the day they were first laid.
That night as I lay in bed, thanking God for such a wonderful family and, in particular, for my brother’s help that day, I realised that it all boiled down to the lessons our parents taught us: to love one another unconditionally; to help each other whenever we could; and to love and help our neighbours whoever they may be. As I began to drift off, I heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34-35) Then it hit me – our parents had simply been reinforcing what Jesus had commanded them to do!
Life is a series of interactions with other people and our actions and attitudes can build upon their foundation; or they can, like years of snow and rain, erode and weaken it. No doubt we have all encountered both, but I am sure we’d agree that the former is the better experience. May we all make a concerted effort in our relationships with each other to simply reinforce what Jesus has commanded?
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV)