Once upon a time a young husband and wife moved half-way around the world to build a home and a life in a brand-new place. This place was new and different from everything they had known and for the most part, they had very little human help. They didn't have to report to work every day; there were no time clocks or activity reports. They could go where they wanted to go and do what they wanted to do, except for one thing: they had a calling on their lives. They were not supposed to "be their own."
They tried to set schedules, but since they were still learning how to do things AND how things were done, they never seemed to work. In time a baby came along, and since they didn't want anything to cramp their new-found freedom, they just carried the baby along to whatever they were doing. The house was messy, meals were erratic, frustration mounted, tears flowed. Time and again they tried to figure out how to have a family life and home life and ministry life, but most days they just dropped in to bed irritable, dirty, and exhausted.
They struggled on like this for three full years, just barely holding it together. Furlough in America would certainly fix it! So they went and another baby came, and it got harder. Feelings hurt deeper and anger flashed more often and one or the other of the young couple withdrew, because they didn't know what else to do. In time they went back to the field. But not before the Holy Spirit had begun a deep heart work in one of them.
Though it was not easy, the one being prodded listened, repented, and begged for help. It came. Oh, it didn't come in rushing torrents, mostly just the tiniest of droplets, but still, it was enough to moisten the dry soil of a life. Though unseen by any human eye, that tiny obedience, that bowing to the One Authority, was like a stone dropped in a pond. It rippled outward. Those waves began jostling the other one, and sins that had been long buried were brought to light. Repentance. Cries for mercy. The answer came this time also, and that obedience softened the soil more.
Joys, trials, good days, bad days, tears, fears, hopes, answers to prayer, sickness, health came and went. A baby was given and a baby was taken. Seeds that had been faithfully planted many years before and new seeds dropped in here and there began to find purchase in the soil of their lives. A few roots began to find their way down, down to truth where they could draw strength and nourishment. More babies came; more heartaches came. But with both, this couple was learning what it meant to find their hope in Another. And with both, they began to learn the importance of strong foundations.
The wise man built his house upon the rock; the foolish man built his house upon the sand. A song from childhood, a truth from Jesus. They sought that Rock. Many days it didn't FEEL like they were growing, that they were making any progress. Having a happy, loving marriage was hard. Parenting was harder. They tried. Most days they felt like they failed. They had learned, somewhere along the way though, that each day they had to just get up and do it again. Their roots clung to that truth when all else failed. Slowly they began putting habits in place, nothing fancy. Washing the dishes before going to bed, no matter how tired they were. Practicing the guitar for just 15 minutes, no matter how little progress was seen. Schooling the children, no matter if everybody enjoyed it or not. Cooking the food, because it had to be cooked. Giving the gospel, even when the language barrier seemed insurmountable. Letting people into their lives, whether they wanted them there or not. Feeding and washing babies, because it had to be done. Many days it felt pointless and useless, but they had been promised that He would perfect that which concerned them. By God's grace they believed it to be so, and the foundations became stronger. The roots went down deeper.
Now a season of trials came, thick and fast. The storm raged, the winds howled, the waves crashed, the rains beat, but the Life they had planted together stood firm. They certainly looked weather-worn, and the smiles were often a bit forced, but they survived. They could join in the great company of witnesses and say that their Foundation was enough.
After the hard days came a stretch of beautiful ones, because no life is complete without both. It seemed almost like a dream at first, but they soon realized that no longer was their plant hanging on for dear life. It was growing, thriving, and bearing fruit. They had learned that the strength was in the Vine, and as long as they were attached to Him, they needed nothing else. All the days of digging, planting, weeding, and pruning were accomplishing what they were supposed to accomplish: fruit. The foundations were deep and strong; the water source was clear and sure. This was not a matter of bragging, but simply a matter of truth. It was a promise of God.