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Building on Sand [*]

House on SandArchitecturally speaking, sand has at least two potential problems as the foundation of a house. First, it can liquefy under certain conditions. Second, sand becomes unstable when it is shaken, such as during an earthquake, wind storm, or heavy flood. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to build a house on sand. With some clever planning and implementation you can certainly use sand as the foundation. Heck, people have built houses on marshes, swamps, stagnant water (see Venice, Italy), muddy mountain slopes (see Malibu, California), rocky cliffs, and more. Most houses, of course, are built on flat rocky soil. The reason for this is simple: Building a house on flat rock is safer, more reliable, and more cost effective than building on any of the aforementioned foundations.

The book of Matthew records one of Jesus’ longest (recorded) sermons, “The Sermon on the Mount”. Throughout the sermon, Jesus provides advice and guidelines about how we should live so that we and those around us can benefit the most. He also warns against certain lifestyle choices that we should avoid. Near the end of His message, Jesus makes the following statement: 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

A couple of months back, someone told me the following true story about someone who built his life on sand:

A man was married and had two daughters. The man had issues but so did his wife. (Who doesn’t have issues?) Going into the marriage, the woman knew that her husband-to-be enjoyed drinking alcohol regularly, but not enough to stop her from making a life-long commitment to him. After they had been married for some time, she learned that he also enjoyed using pornography. She confronted him about it, he made some promises, and things seemed to be okay for a while. Nothing had really improved though. He was just hiding it. The issue surfaced again eventually when she walked in on him in the act. Again she confronted it, there were more promises, and, again, it went away. This cycle repeated itself for a while. It got to the point where she would wake up and find him in the bed beside her with a laptop nearby and… well… you get the idea. The more she confronted him about it, the worse he seemed to become. Meanwhile, his affection for hard liquor seemed to increase too. Other issues began to creep in as well: avoidance of household problems, disproportionate anger, withdrawal from friends and family, and more. They… er… she sought professional counseling, consulted friends, pleaded and begged, but it all seemed to be for naught. Eventually, and with great sorrow, she decided that it would be best for him to move out of the house. He seemed to be out of control. The two daughters were even potentially at risk. She filed for divorce and he moved out into a one bedroom apartment. One day, the man simply didn’t show up for his regular daily routine and he failed to answer his phone so someone went to check on him. They found him dead with a gun in is hand in his apartment. Nearly every surface of the small apartment was covered with pornographic material and empty alcohol containers. The man had built his life on sand, and the divorce was the storm that caused his life to fall with a great crash.

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