Summary: If you dig deep to lay your foundation, you are wise. If you are satisfied to be shallow, you are foolish, and what you build will never hold up in the flood.
Dr. Victor Heiser, author of the one time best seller An American Doctor's Odyssey, was 16 years
old when the tragic Johnstown flood struck in 1889. He was out in the barn getting a horse when he
heard a dreadful roar. When he ran to the door he saw his father up at the house frantically
motioning for him to get to the top of the barn. In a few seconds he was up on the roof, and in a few
more seconds he saw a mass of houses, freight cars, trees and animals strike his house. It collapsed
like an eggshell, but the barn was torn from its foundation and began to roll. By scrambling and
crawling he was able to keep on top. The barn struck a neighbor's house. He leaped into the air and
landed on the house just as it collapsed. Fortunately another house rose up beside him and he was
able to cling to it.
He lived this experience over and over many times in his dreams, and he vividly recalled his
fingernails digging deep into the shingles. He was sweep into a jam of wreckage and had to
constantly dodge the deathblows of trees and beams that came roaring pass. A freight car came
crashing into the wreckage and he was thrown like a bullet into open waters. He was sweep into
another jam of wreckage against a brick building that was still on its foundation. He managed to get
to the roof of this solid structure, and with others there he was able to rescue people being sweep by
until there were 19 gathered on that still standing building.
It was raining hard, and so they opened the skylight and got down into the attic where they
spent a night of terror listening to the roar of the water and the crashing of buildings all around them.
Their building held, but most did not. Two thousand and nine were recovered, and many were never
found. Those in buildings with deep and solid foundations lived to tell of this fearful flood. Many
gathered with the Rev. Beale in the First Presbyterian Church in the heart of the city. The waters
filled the basement, but it with stood the flood and everyone there was spared. Life or death
depended on the foundation of the building you were in. A solid foundation meant life, and a
shallow foundation meant death.
This is so obvious a truth when we consider a physical flood, but men do not always realize that
this is equally valid in the spiritual realm. Jesus concluded His most extended sermon on record, the
Sermon on the Mount, with an illustration concerning the need for depth. Jesus was vitally
concerned about the matter of foundations, and He wanted to impress all with its importance.
Whether you are wise of foolish depends on what you do with this issue. If you dig deep to lay your
foundation, you are wise. If you are satisfied to be shallow, you are foolish, and what you build will
never hold up in the flood, which the storms of life bring at some point. Jesus implies that all will be
tested by the flood.
Jesus was a carpenter, and there is no way to know how many homes He built, or help build,
before He began His ministry of building the kingdom of God. One thing we can be sure of,
however, and that is that none of them fell in the rainy season because of a shallow and shabby
foundation. Jesus was a builder of quality in both the secular task of building a home, and in the
sacred task of building a life. He expected all who followed Him to do likewise, and to avoid being
superficial, but to dig deep.
The interesting thing to observe here is, that which makes the great difference between the wise
and the foolish builder is not conspicuous. The two houses may look identical, and, in fact, the one
with no foundation may even look superior as far as looks go. The shallow life may be as appealing
as the deep one. Appearances are deceiving. It is when the flood comes to test them that the hidden
foundation proves its value, and leaves the man who dug deep standing justified.
No life can escape testing, and that is why Jesus was so insistent upon depth. You recall in His
parable of the sower how some seed fell on ground where it had little soil. It sprang up quickly, but
it had no depth, and so when the sun arose it was scorched and withered away. Depth is not a
luxury. It is a necessity for survival. When God plants He knows the value of depth. In Psa. 80:8-9
Israel is compared to a vine which God planted. "You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out