This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my basement. 2016 will go down in my memory for many reasons. One of those is the fact that this was the year my wife and I became first time homeowners. After months of searching and planning, we took the plunge and got a mortgage on an old farmhouse/ sea captain’s home built around 1900 or possibly earlier. The home comes complete with an old field stone basement. Like most homeowners I get involved with my busy life and usually forget the basement is even there. However, occasionally something requires my attention and I must descend the creaky wooden stairs down into that dark and somewhat dingy space. Last week such an event occurred and I found myself standing in the basement and staring at the rock walls that surrounded me. There are no cement slabs or blocks. Each stone is unique. Some are large and some are small, but they have all been pieced together in just the right way. I have often said that most modern art doesn’t hold a candle to a well built stone wall. As I looked around at my basement walls, I was struck with one thought: this thing is holding my house up. These stones are what keep my house from collapsing and sinking into the ground.
It is not that I am afraid of this happening. After all, those walls have stood strong for over a hundred years at this point, but I was struck by the magnitude of such a heavy burden. There they are neglected, forgotten, and straining under the burden of walls, floors, and windows. Those stones are the unsung heroes of my home; doing a job every day that ensures the comfort and safety of the people who are most important to me in this world. While I really am thankful for those stone walls, it is what they remind me of that spurs me on to a deep sense of thankfulness. What those walls are doing for my physical home, God is doing over and over again in my life and the life of my family. He is lifting me up day after day, protecting me, and providing for me in ways I could never have imagined. In Psalm 40:2, David declared “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” I echo David’s sentiments. Just as the stones that make up my basement are the foundation on which my house sits, so Christ is the rock upon which my life sits. And we know from Scripture that the wise man is the one who builds his house upon the rock and not upon the sand.
I am thankful that Christ is my foundation, but I can’t really take credit for this. Often just like my basement he becomes neglected and forgotten in the busyness of my life. This is to my shame. In my life I often fail over and over again. I fail as a husband, as a father, as a friend, and as a Christian. These failures only add to my thankfulness, because in spite of them God is still there holding me up. His faithfulness to me is beyond measure. He is the all too often forgotten rock holding me up and keeping me from sinking into the ground. It isn’t that I am not thankful for this all year long, but Thanksgiving affords us a special opportunity to think on such things. As I reflect on God’s care for me this past year, I once again echo David’s words that God “established his goings.” That phrase is quickly becoming my life’s story. The stories are too many to tell here, but I have seen God open door after door. Sometimes I was earnestly seeking his help and other times I was busy being caught up in my own panic, worry, and self- loathing. Staring at the stones in my basement last week reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me. The second verse of the old hymn “How Firm A Foundation” has become especially meaningful to me.
“I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand”
I have one final thought about my basement (in case you think I haven’t stretched this out enough). Looking at the stones in my basement has increased my motivation to make Christ the most important thing in my life. 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, ” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We can build our spiritual house on all kinds of things, but only one thing will really last. I have often been guilty of focusing on all the wrong things in my life and over and over again I have been disappointed. Christ and only Christ can offer you a solid and lasting foundation. For all this I am thankful, and I am thankful for simple pictures that God puts all around me to remind me of these things.