We were on vacation when I began a conversation with someone who was also vacationing. In that conversation he told me about his work. He owned and operated a company that had just won the contract for an interstate highway project. He said they would be providing all of the gravel for a five-mile stretch of a 10-lane highway. He expected to sell enough gravel to allow him to retire comfortably.
I asked him how much gravel that would be. I don’t remember the total cubic yards/tonnage, but I do remember his explanation of why it was such a large amount of gravel. There was a deep layer of gravel at the base, followed by a larger layer of asphalt, with a layer of concrete on top. I don’t remember how many feet of each, but it was astounding to think of how much gravel went into every mile or roadway.
That’s when I began to pay attention to road construction projects. As a driver, I knew when the top surface was in need of repair; but I hadn’t thought about the foundation of the roadway. Now I see it every time I go down the road. A foot or more of concrete on top of another foot or more of asphalt on top of two to six feet of gravel. Sometimes the aging of a road from the weather takes its toll. But when the base collapses or begins to fray, the top layer begins to fail even faster. It amazes me whenever I see it taking place.
Whenever I see road construction sites, I also think about my faith. I know there are things people can see, the actions I live by. But underneath those actions are values and teachings that shape them. I know that without a sufficient base there is nothing on which to build my life. Without that bottom layer, what people see will begin to fail.
As a pastor, it is the base that I work on the most, even though it cannot be seen. I do so because it makes the most difference in the quality of my life.
It’s also what I try to address in the lives of the people around me.
Two particular ways I’ll be working on the underlying layers of our faith include a series of sermons about the foundation for Christians under Construction in September and a long-term Bible Study that provides a key layer in our spiritual undergirding. I see both of them helping make a significant impact on the way we live our lives because they address the layers below the surface.
I hope you’ll find a way to strengthen your spiritual life by taking time to tend to the foundation of your faith. And if what we are offering doesn’t help you do that, let me know and we’ll find a way to help you maintain your faith in other ways because I don’t want your life to fail due to a crumbling foundation!