When an earthquake hits, it’s the foundation of buildings that it shakes. If the foundation is not up to code, part or all of the building can come crashing down.
During my time on staff at TWU, there are countless times I sat in meetings, in chapel, or at preview events listening to former President Dr. Raymond speak. He would share how Trinity is a safe place for young adults to have their faith, often adopted from their parents, deconstructed but then reconstructed into something they could call their own. Often my mind would drift to reminiscing about my own time as a student and I would nod my head, acknowledging the impact the school had on my own faith development. TWU is where I discovered I could be a leader. It is where I resisted many temptations and actually knew why I was resisting them. Not that I was perfect and didn’t make mistakes, but it was the time when my faith started making sense to me.
I still look back at my time as an undergraduate student and see how God began shaping my faith into my own. For many years following graduation I felt I had a solid, unshakeable foundation of faith to build my life on. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is that life events can shake your foundation, no matter how solid it might be.
So life happens and unanticipated things come your way. Things that aren’t supposed to rattle you because your foundation is solid. Things that couldn’t happen to you because your family, for generations, has a deep rooted foundation built on God. Things like relationships that fail. Or disillusionment at work where disillusionment shouldn’t exist because you work with people whose lives God is transforming. Things like following a dream to start your own business only to struggle to find clients. Things like believing you are in God’s will but feeling the faith required to be there is just a little beyond what you have.
I was reading Empyrion: The Siege of Dome by Stephen R. Lawhead one day.
“[Corwin],” the voice chided, “wake up and look around. What do you see? Are My people unthinking zombies? Are they crushed by their devotion to me?”
“I am the infinite, [Corwin]. I have taken infinite pains to make you who are. Why would I now destroy what I have made? To prove a point that doesn’t need proving?
“Control is very important to you. But can you now see that striving after it has given you more pain than pleasure all your life? Your desire for control has thwarted you most often when you were closest to giving in to better things.”
(A quote liberally adapted from Empyrion: The Siege of Dome, Stephen R. Lawhead)
WHAM! It hit me like a brick and I started to weep. God was talking to me through this author. God was asking me to relinquish the control I so desperately fought to keep. For months I was suggesting to God, “Okay I am showing faith in you, I’m learning all these lessons, I am trusting your leading and guidance, but I am running out of time and money. WHAT MORE DO I NEED TO LEARN?” But then I could hear a voice in my head saying, “There’s not a maximum level of faith and trust that produces your desired results. Wait on me!
So here I wait! Sometimes patiently and sometimes not so patiently, but over time relinquishing the control over situations that ironically I can’t control anyways. Waiting on Him to show me where next month’s money will come from. Waiting on Him to show me where my next opportunity will be. And through it all realizing that the foundation that was laid by my parents, my Sunday school teachers, my University professors— those foundations that I continue to strengthen—are enough to remain intact when life’s earthquakes shake me. It doesn’t mean there aren’t cracks to fix in the foundation of our faith from time to time. It doesn’t mean there won’t be damage to repair when our world shakes uncontrollably. But it does mean that whatever happens in life, those who have chosen God know the end of their story.
In Philippians, Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” In the same passage, he thanks the Philippians for providing for his basic survival in prison, which is a large hole in the ground with no light, no bathrooms, no bed, no clothes and no food unless someone brings some. And then he says: “Not that I am speaking of being in need … for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” Unbelievable! I’m not quite at his level yet (I’m still learning just to survive all things), but I know I can be content when I give up control and allow Him to strengthen me. As I sit here on my leather couch, a bathroom close by, large windows to look out, plenty of food in the fridge, three mostly wonderful boys running around full of life, I am thankful that Paul set the bar higher than my own situation and that helps me realize I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I know the end of my story in Christ. I still struggle at times conceding my will to His and feeling like I can handle the earthquakes that shake my foundation. But I know Paul did it, I know I have done it on previous days and when I look to Him, I know I can do it again!