I have to admit, I don’t read the Bible very often. But last week I found myself bored, sitting on a cot in a gym in Alabama. After pounding nails into countless boards during the day, I had some downtime and decided to play some Bible roulette. I flipped through the pages and landed my finger on a random verse:
“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.
From that point on, I had a greater sense of what was truly going on in Alabama. Obviously St. Paul was not writing about his time building the foundation to a house, but I couldn’t help but relate his words to the experience I had this past Spring Break.
I recently joined a group of 20 college students from SVSU and CMU on a pilgrimage to Nashville, Tennessee and Atmore, Alabama. We spent the first few days praying and conversing with Dominican Sisters in Nashville and spent a week in Atmore to help build a house through Habitat for Humanity.
When we first arrived at the job site, the framework for the foundation had just been put into place. After four days of sweat, sunburns, and splinters, we had finished developing the foundation of the house, began constructing framework for the walls, and had begun to install the plumbing and water lines for the house. As our work week ended, cement began pouring into our creation; solidifying all of our hard work.
When the four days were up, we had finished building the foundation of the house for a family who truly deserved it. In the future, more groups will pick up where we left off; building off of the foundation we had started. But the trip, this blog, and the Bible verse are not strictly limited to the foundation of the house.
By the end of the trip, the connections between our team members were so much stronger. At the beginning of the week, I knew about half of the group (most of them only by name). By the end, I was having deep conversations with people who had previously been seen as just “Facebook friends”. The trip helped me build a strong foundation in my friendship with both college students I knew and with those who I had previously not known very well.
Throughout the week, the community of Atmore really took us in and went above and beyond the stereotypical act of “southern hospitality”. Not only did they provide us with meals and souvenirs, they made us feel more welcome than any other group of people I’ve ever encountered. Two extraordinary individuals, Larry and Betty, opened up their home to us twenty strangers and let us grill out in their backyard. The local Methodist church invited us to their pot luck dinner and everyone greeted us with a genuine smile, hand shake, and conversation starter. They did more than just provide for what we needed, they took the time to get to know us and show us just how appreciative they were for our work.
All of this was possible because while we were developing the foundation of the house, the friendships with each other, and the bond with the community, we were building on our foundation in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Mission for Habitat for Humanity is “Working to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.” No one wants to live in a foundation of a house, even though a foundation is necessary in order to build the walls to construct a house. The foundation we built in our friendships with one another and the community will not thrive unless they are built upon through follow-up contact. And on our life-long journey, we must continue to build off of our foundation of Jesus Christ. Because as the verse goes on to explain, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” When you acknowledge Christ as your foundation and work hard to build off of it, you will find that the “house” you build, the bond that you share with others, can withstand anything.