Once upon a time we were in Youth Ministry at a church. A young couple that worked with us as youth leaders got pregnant and had a baby. A few months after wards, it became apparent that something was not right with the little girl’s health. After months of medical tests, they discovered that their baby was suffering with profound genetic defects and there was no hope for a cure. She was given just a few months to live. They signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) medical order and took their daughter home to enjoy the last few months of her life.
We prayed like crazy during those couple of months. We prayed for a miracle. It did not happen. When their smiley little baby died, we were stunned and hurt. We all said the awkward, unhelpful things that people say when friends experience such a tragedy. None of us knew how to help them grieve. We were all in our early 20’s, and none of us had the wisdom nor the life experience to know how to handle this kind of sadness. They retreated into their grief and we stood ineffectively on the sidelines wanting to do something, but doing nothing more than providing a few meals and pitiful sympathies.
At the funeral for their baby girl, the grandfather gave the eulogy for this young life taken far too soon. I wondered how he found the strength to do it. But he said some of the most beautiful and life impacting words that I have ever heard. I’ve never forgotten them. He talked about foundations.
On his morning commute through downtown, he would drive past an entire city block fenced off with barricades indicating that construction would soon take place there. As the weeks passed, the buildings that were on the site were demolished. Heaps of rubble were hauled off the site. Then the digging machines were brought in. For MONTHS they dug the hole deeper and deeper, preparing to lay the foundation for the future building. As the hole got bigger and bigger he wondered what kind of massive building would be built there.
As the months passed and the sky scraper began to take form, the grandfather pondered these things in the light of the impending and certain death of his first granddaughter. At the funeral he said, “When God lays a foundation, he has to dig deep. We wonder what kind of structure he will build here. The deeper he digs, the bigger the building will be. In order to build something massively ‘upward’, you need to take the time to prepare the ‘downward’ part first. The deeper God excavates our lives, we can be sure that He plans to build something very big on the surface, but he has to dig first.”
I have no idea if the family even remembers this eulogy spoken through the haze of their pain, but it has stuck with me for all these years. I think about it when I feel like God is tearing down and digging out too much stuff in my life. I thought about it when we let go of our life and possessions and family to move to the mission field. I cried for the pain of the deep digging, but I wanted the results of God’s construction in my life even more than I wanted the rubble I gave up. The bigger the blue print for the building, the deeper the hole for the foundation.
If God is digging really deep in your life, hauling out a ton of dirt and making a really big hole, then he plans to build a really big structure with your life. We are the temple of God. Does our foundation go deep?