Check Your Foundations

(an article I wrote in 2010)
Shore Acres has to be one of the most beautiful spots on earth. We visited it this week on a two day trip to the coast. The flowers in the Shore Acres’ garden gave promise of what will happen here in a matter of weeks. The brights bursts of color surrounding the reflecting pond, make everything twice as enchanting. Since our house has been inundated by bad colds, sinus and bronchial infections for about three months, the partially open buds on the flowering trees spoke loudly to us that there is a promise of spring and newness just around the corner. The beauty of it all spoke hope into our hearts.

As we stood on the viewing patio watching the waves hit the rocks and fly thirty feet above the cliffs, the people around us pointed to a ledge across an inlet where someone wearing a light blue jacket was perched on the edge of an overhanging rock taking pictures of the spray coming down over their head. I realized it was Emily, the young woman who lives with us and her friend Bethany who had come to the coast with us. When I gasp, the woman next to me ask, “Do you know them?”

While cameras snapped and the viewers oohed and aahed at the huge bursts of spray, my husband David set off to get the girls off the cliff. From our vantage point, a dista20150927_172946nce away, they looked like they were in great danger as we could see that the precipice they were sitting on had already lost the bottom of it’s foundations to the sea and was merely a large bit of rock jutting out from a more solid cliff.

At the actual spot the girls were sitting, things looked quite different. They had simply kept climbing out to the edge to get a better picture. It appeared to them to be solid ground, a very safe place to sit and watch the spectacular water show the ocean was providing. It was only later when they viewed the spot from the security of the paved section surrounded by protecting walls where the rest of us had been standing that they realized why the everyone had thought them in danger.

This morning as I sat down to write this column, I thought how life is so often like that experience. We often make decisions to do things that seem logical, practical and completely safe. It is only after the fact that we look back and realize we hadn’t taken the most important details into consideration–things that from a distance make the decisions appear totally wrong.

Holms on Homes, an HGTV program, portrays people who have hired individuals to remodel their homes only to lose money to unscrupulous contractors. Mike Holms comes to the rescue, uncovering the shoddy work and fixing the problems. Most of the home owners had believed they’d found a person they could trust to tackle their projects. In good faith they paid out the money to contractors they’d selected through research or referral, only to have everything fall apart. In hind sight they realized they’d asked the wrong questions or overlooked some obvious red flags. Fortunately for some, Holms appears and makes it all better. Unfortunately for others in the same situation but not chosen to be on the television program, the burden of the wrong choices hang over them the rest of their lives.

I have a number of friends who married people who did not share their foundational beliefs about God. It didn’t seem so important at the time because they were in love and the idea of spending their lives with this wonderful person, this best friend, promised a life of security and a great family. They felt as safe and secure as those girls did out on the cliff. Now, years later, the fact that the most basic thing about them could not be shared with their mate over the years has made them warn others that foundations are the most important part of making a marriage work. With the wisdom they have now, they would have chosen differently. Sitting alone at church, seeing their children struggle with faith has been heartbreaking for them.

Making wise decisions is not easy. We need to know what questions to ask, how to evaluate for ourselves what is right. It’s a good idea to get the input of people who can see from a different perspective, from those who have learned from making wrong choices themselves or from those who can look ahead with clearer vision.

Just as Emily and Bethany realized, what looks safe at the moment may not be when viewed from a distance. A strong foundation under you is important.