Grandpa’s building fell. I remember the day he began to build. Grandpa Johnson was a contractor and a builder among many other things. He owned a bulldozer, a dump truck and, many tools of the trade, and he needed a better place to put them than his ever-shrinking garage. He decided to build a large, metal building on a concrete slab that would hold and protect them.
When the concrete hardened, I was there riding my bicycle across is smooth, clean surface. When the lumber came, I was there watching as they sawed and hammered the boards that quickly became the framework for Grandpa’s dream. He even gave me a tool bag, just like his, a hammer, some nails and a job to help make it a reality! It may not have been the first time I’d hammered a nail, but it was the first time that I can remember! The night after the builders had raised the framework and bones of the project took the shape of the building it would become, a violent storm passed through.
My family and I lived in a double-wide trailer just across from Grandma and Grandpa’s stone house. Their house was multi-level, built into a hill so that the downstairs was partially underground but also emerged from the slope facing the place where the new building stood. From Grandpa’s office window, you could see it. Native to the flat fields and prairies of Indiana, we were no strangers to tornado weather. My Dad had strapped our mobile home down with metal, and still, when the winds began to blow that night, we could feel it shake with the might of the storm. We grabbed our blankets and pillows and ran across the drive to my grandparent’s house and huddled together in Grandpa’s office.
Their house was strong and did not shake, but from where we stood, through the window we could see that the unfinished structure of Grandpa’s building was not yet ready to withstand the storm. We all watched as it swayed from side to side. I wondered if my nails would hold. In seconds, what once had been a building became nothing more than pile of splintered wood and debris. Miraculously, our double-wide had survived and we were able to go back home.
The next morning I watched as my Grand-father – because that is how he seemed to me in that moment – walked over to the pile of his broken dreams and began to pull nails from the boards and to stack what usable lumber he could find into a pile beside the wreckage. Over the course of the next few weeks, he and his co-workers cleaned up the mess and more loads of lumber were delivered to the site. Once again, the sounds of hammers on nails and saws on wood were heard and once again I helped him build his building.
The frame was raised at last! We saw what seemed only possible through a miracle just a few weeks before! We could not know that a storm would come again during those crucial moments when the structure was not yet fully strengthened. I awoke to sound of my mother’s voice. It seemed a drea; vivid and terrible. The house shook and we once again fled to the safety of my grandparent’s home. We stood there in the same place we had stood before, hoping that this time the building would stand. With the thunder and wind came the sickening sound of splintering wood and once again we watched the building fall. I think my Grandfather may have cried, though I never saw it. Our family and our homes were safe and in that we could be thankful. But, what would Grandpa do? How many times would he rebuild before he gave up?
The next morning, he walked out again to the heap of soaked lumber wood that been his dream. In his hand he held a hammer. Once again, I saw him pull the nails and set aside the wood. Over the course of the next few weeks, the mess was cleaned, the lumber came, and he built his building for the second time in as many months.
I visited the old home a few years ago and there the building stands, having weathered many a storm since. I know, however, that, one day, the building will fall again. It is a thing built by human hands and no matter how many times or how many nails we use, no matter how sturdy the foundation, it will not last forever.
In Matthew 7, Jesus talks about building a house upon sand and rock. He compares our lives to builders and how we choose the way in which we build our characters. He says that when the rains descend, the floods come, and the winds blow, only those who build upon the rock will remain standing. In Ephesians 2, Paul says that Jesus Christ Himself is the chief corner stone.
The wind, the rains, and floods have come this year in one way or another. Have you built your house upon a foundation that will hold? Jesus Himself has provided the nails and His building in your life will not fall. If you have experienced tragedy and loss, if you have tried to build and found that life has swept away your hopes and dreams, turn to Jesus. In John 14:2, He says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” Revelation 22:20
Tim Reutebuch, baritone