Today’s devotional is part of the World Day of Prayer 2021, with the theme “Build on a Strong Foundation” and coordinated by the Women’s Ministries Department. This year’s prayer focus is on the small island country of Vanuatu. 1,100 mile to the east of Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean are the scatted islands of Vanuatu. This cluster of islands stretch out over 400 miles and was discovered by the Spanish in 1606.
Originally each island had its own gods, customs and culture. Christianity and colonization had a significant impact on the island society and now 83% of the population is Christian.
We pray for this country today…that God may bless and sustain His people in Vanuatu.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the home improvements shows where houses are built in 100 days or the recent use of 3D printers and robots to build houses… you can’t but wonder how strong those foundations are to properly support a house in the long run. Technology and digitalization have engulfed our lives to the point we automatically look for ‘quick fixes’ instead of investing time, resources and effort to tackle areas of erosion or demolish what is rotten and rebuild. The same applies to our spiritual foundation.
This year’s theme for the World Day of Prayer is Build on a Strong Foundation featuring the islands of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Building a strong foundation is something people in Vanuatu can easily relate to. Traditional houses in Vanuatu’s poor communities are Melanesian style built with no glass windows, and walls and roofing out of palm, bamboo or cane. But cyclones are a common threat to their communities. Cyclones in 1987 and 2015 damaged over 90% of buildings in some of the islands. As a result, public and private efforts were established to rebuild more solid structures with strong foundations to withstand harsh conditions.
From today’s scripture, we learn that both houses are exposed to storms and crisis; it’s part of life. The difference is in how we go through them and where we draw our strength from. We can all agree we have faced harsh conditions for the past year… Lenten season is known as a season to deepen our faith through reflection and renewal. Our Christian faith must be strengthened differently not only to withstand the inevitable storms that come, but also to build for the kingdom of God during these challenging times of physical, mental, and spiritual erosion. How can we deepen our faith and build in 2021? We can rebuild with authentic love: Let’s reflect.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH WHAT YOU HEAR JESUS SAY?
In today’s passage, Jesus defines the key to successfully build is to have Him – the eternal rock – as our foundation and to do what He says. In other words, being authentic doers of God’s will, not just hearers. What do you do with what you hear Jesus say? We may be selective hearers picking and choosing what we feel comfortable obeying, perhaps avoiding what we need to repair the most. Suddenly your hearing is eroded by other voices, not Jesus’ and you find yourself one day feeling defeated in sinking sand, wondering how you got there.
In this time and age, absolutes are defied and challenged by many around us, including our own families at times. We live in a society that has wanted to remove God from the picture of our human experience. But God wants us to reach out to them with authentic love, so they too can have a strong foundation. The realities of 2020 have forced us all to stop going through the motions of rudiments and truly assess the health of our souls individually as well as the authenticity of the spiritual foundation of our homes… For many people, their world has collapsed. They are searching for a spiritual foundation to endure their losses, not sure how they will start all over again. They are searching and looking at us Christians in the process…
The terrain of the Christian church these days is unchartered territory for many. Churches are rediscovering what they look like as a family of faith. We have adapted congregational life connecting through technology, but for the most part, we are now a faceless community. Preachers are adjusting their delivery from big audiences to silent cameras. We can still build with authentic love: Let’s renew.
We have heard Jesus say that we will be known by our love (even when we can’t see our faces…). Let’s rebuild the foundations of our interpersonal relationships with His holy love. Let’s share with authenticity and loving kindness. The other day I was having a rough day (like many of us can relate to during this year of pandemic, deaths, masks, and isolation). Little did I know I was going to be cheered up by a note of authentic love a friend sent by mail. In it, she shared memories of our times together and words of encouragement lifting me and my family up in prayer. That did it! She was building from her strong foundation of faith. I in turn, was blessed by it and reminded of God’s faithfulness in our times of need.
None of us know what we (or our loved ones) may be facing tomorrow. We must be ready with Christ as our solid foundation to withstand whatever may come. Our hearts must be on check for subtle signs of erosion. By our authentic love not just our words, we must be willing to reach out and share joys and struggles. Our family, friends, and the world around us need to know that we truly rely on Christ for our daily living. With humility and authenticity, we will open the way for them to build on Christ the solid rock too.
Take these weeks of Lent to thoroughly check the foundations of your heart, surrendering any sign of damage or deterioration of your ‘house’ at the feet of the cross. Trust Christ can transform and solidify the foundations of your marriage, of the relationship with your children, with your co-workers and the community where you are. We can rebuild by doing as Jesus says. He’ll bless us and through us, bless others. Maybe there is someone you can bless today with a simple note or a phone call… In doing so, you will be building on a strong foundation of faith for the present and for generations to come.
prepared by the Women’s Ministries Department, USA East