Summary: The foundations that are laid early in life are essential. Although, not very exciting, foundations are essential if a building or faith is to stand the storms of life.
2 Pentecost A Matthew 7:21-27 2 June 2002
Rev. Roger Haugen
I love to watch construction and have been enjoying the building of the new bridge across the river. It is amazing to watch the preparatory work. They have spent many months building dikes so they can work out in the river, sinking pilings, pouring footings as they got ready to put up the steel. I sometimes became impatient wondering how long it would be before we could see some progress. They had to flood the ice to get it thick enough to work from the ice and this took weeks. Only after long months did they begin to pour the concrete on which to lay the steel girders. Once the steel was in place, they have taken more weeks to build the forms for the concrete and only now is the surface started. The engineers know how crucial these first steps are. We may get impatient, but without a good foundation the bridge would not last long.
When I go into a High School these days I am amazed to see young men who stand well over six feet tall and a lot of young women equally as tall. The schools are filled with many healthy, bright and well-adjusted young people. I sure don’t remember them that tall when I was in High School. I have had the opportunity to be involved in the Battlefords’ Kids First program in its inception. We now know that the first 5 years from conception are the most important years of a child’s life. In those years, pre-natal care and nutrition of the mother determine the health and well-being of that child. These early years determine their ability to learn, to grow healthy and strong all through their lives. Mothers know that they are not to drink alcohol during pregnancy, don’t smoke and don’t be around those who do. They know that they must eat well and get plenty of rest and exercise while pregnant, all for the good of their child. The good foundation laid in the life of a child may not be glamorous and may not seem immediately important, but the foundation is of utmost importance. It is only as we see these strong and healthy teenagers, that we know the foundations were well laid.
My work in Family Ministry has led me to discover much the same in the faith development of people. The first five years are pivotal. It is in the first five years of life that children need to know that they are loved unconditionally, that they are secure, that they are of value and that God loves them. The foundations built in the home in which this child is growing and living is essential if they are to grow in faith. The faith lived and spoken of by parents is breathed in by children and becomes the basis for their faith. Faith experienced as a child is the foundation for all of life. As parents and adults in these children’s lives, it is our privilege and responsibility to be about building these foundations. It is our task to build assets into the lives of children, to speak and share our faith so that in later years they have a faith that is alive and active.
Barbara Colorosa speaks of the Six Critical Life Messages that all children and youth need to hear:
· I believe in you
· I trust you
· I know you can handle it
· You are listened to
· You are cared for
· You are very important to me
She knows the essential foundations that must be laid and built upon in order for a child to grow and mature as a healthy, well-adjusted human being.
This is not new. In Deuteronomy we read that we are to “put the words of the Lord in your heart and soul. . . .Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” When is that? All the time. We are to live and breathe the words of the Lord and in doing so, we lay the foundation of faith in our children that will serve them to old age and everywhere in between. If we live and breathe the words of the Lord our foundations will have been laid and we will be able to speak the words of Psalm 31 in times of difficulty, “In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.”
Without well-laid foundations, bridges collapse, health is compromised and struggles in life result in destruction rather than weathering the storms. There is nothing sadder in my work than dealing with a family at the time of a funeral when they suddenly realize they have no foundation of faith to carry them through the difficult time of the death of a loved one. They may know “about” Jesus but do not know and trust Jesus, nor does Jesus know them. Foundations that needed to be laid years before are not there when they are needed. And so we try to salvage what hope we can, and throw ourselves upon the mercy of God.