Firm foundation will hold you strong

Published 12:23 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It’s been quite a week around Suffolk.

Since my last column, we’ve had an earthquake and a hurricane, plus plenty of flooding resulting from Irene. Perhaps the plague of locusts is next. At least there’s less greenery for them to eat, now that 6,000 acres of the Dismal Swamp have been charred by the wildfire.

About an hour before the earthquake happened Tuesday, when Hurricane Irene was still wandering about in the Atlantic, I attended an event that set the stage for everything else I was about to experience.


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I was invited to Southside Baptist Church at 1 p.m. Tuesday to witness a Bible being buried under the foundation of the church’s expansion building. Gary Leinart with E.T. Gresham had suggested the idea to pastor Stewart McCarter, who jumped at the chance.

At first, I was a little concerned about the idea of a Bible getting covered in gook. But symbolism means a lot to me, as a literature fiend, so I get it. We all should build our lives, our families, our churches and our communities on firm foundations, and there’s no better foundation than the Bible. (I was pleased to see, however, that the Bible was tightly sealed in a zippered plastic bag.)

McCarter read aloud Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” He had inscribed the verse on the inside cover for the occasion — the first markings he made in the Bible he once used exclusively in the pulpit.

After the event, I drove back to the office with a Sunday-school song stuck in my head. It was about a wise man who built his house upon a rock and a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When “the rains came down and the floods came up,” you can guess what happened. As the song goes, “the house on the rock stood firm,” but the house on the sand “went splat.”

Barely 10 minutes after I got back to the office, I was sitting at my desk when I felt my chair move slightly of its own volition. A little weird, I thought, but nothing to be concerned about with train tracks and a highway nearby.

Then the television mount on the wall behind me began creaking, and the floor began shaking. Knowing immediately that it was an earthquake, I planted my hands firmly on my desk and prayed that would be as bad as it got. And it was.

Then, when the hurricane came, the rain certainly came down, and the floods came up. But almost every building in Suffolk stood firm throughout both events, because they were planted on firm foundations.

It’s not always easy to see why your life should be based on a firm foundation. When the sun is shining and the ground’s not shaking, a shoddy foundation might hold your house up. But when the rains and the earthquakes come, you want to be ready. It will be too late to lay a foundation when the earth starts moving and the rain starts falling.