Have you ever built something and expected it to last? Did it bother you when things fell down?
We are counting the days between Easter and Pentecost by thinking about some spiritual characteristics that should be a part of who we are. We have thought about peace, persevering, and humility. Pentecost Sunday this year is May 31, appropriately a day that many churches will use as a grand re-opening to worship in a building.
Today we want to look at the foundation you use to build upon it the “stuff” of our lives. Have you ever played the skill board game called Jenga? The game is marketed in the United States by Hasbro. A tower is built, constructed of 54 blocks. Players take turns removing a block and then placing the block on the top of the tower. With each player’s move, the tower becomes increasingly more unstable, until it tumbles.
Jenga was created by Leslie Scott, the co-founder of a company called Oxford Games. She based the concept on a game that evolved in her own family during the early ‘70s in Takoradi, Ghana. The name jenga is taken from kujenga, a Swahili word that means “to build.” Scott launched the game at the London Toy Fair in 1983. It was licensed in the United States under the Schaper Toy company (remember “Cootie” and “Tickle Bee”), which was bought by Hasbro. Hasbro put the game out under their “Milton Bradley” label.
At the end of 2017, over 80 million Jenga games had been sold worldwide, adding up to about 4.3 billion Jenga blocks. Even though a large part of the fun of the game came in the tower’s downfall, the key to how long the game lasted often depended upon how well the tower and its foundation were built.
Life is like that, isn’t it? When the “block” of your marriage relationship is taken out, will the tower of your life still stand? Think of the “blocks” that often are slipped from your tower and thrown haphazardly on its top? Employment. Financial stability. Health. Children. Grief. Friendship. Those important blocks can be taken from our tower. Will the result still stand, or will it cause the tower to tumble? Upon what have you built your tower?
As we consider the construction of our towers, wander with me through several phrases of an old hymn that will help us center our thoughts about life’s foundations. How many phrases will it take before you know the hymn?
My hope. Life is built with hopes and dreams. Are you where you thought you would be in your life? Is your job the one you studied to perform? Are you living in the place you thought you would call “home?” How has your life changed? What are your dreams today? Have you tossed them aside completely?
One of the casualties of this year’s coronavirus has been the high school senior events and graduation ceremonies. While we feel sorry that the students are not able to enjoy these special times, the real loss is on the shoulders of the parents. In many ways they have been waiting for this day for 12 years. The traditions of the celebration of that hope have been shipwrecked.
If our foundation for our tower includes hope, upon what are you basing your hope? Is it something that someone might snatch from your grasp at any time?
Is Built. With the amount of building that we do, we all should be wearing hard-hats and construction gear. We have been tinkering since a very early age. Fisher-Price toddler toys. Lincoln Logs. Lego blocks. We learn how to set things up. We learn what makes things fall.
A part of the person that you are today is because of the time and skill of the people who invested in the process of building. Your parents make the most significant contribution. If your parents were divorced, that is a block that is taken out. But if all of the adults involved are working diligently in the construction process, the less than ideal circumstances might provide additional benefits. But what if they weren’t?
How are you continuing to build your tower? What blocks are you using for your tower? In what ways are you investing in the construction of the towers of your children?
On Nothing Less. Imagine building a tower of a sturdy quality material, but every other building block used a material that was mixed with mostly gelatin. How long would the tower last? An important feature of a strong tower is all of the blocks are made of the same quality material.
What is the quality and material of the blocks you are using? You have probably guessed the hymn at this point. The line finishes with “on Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” The material that is found here on Earth can make life on Earth pleasant. But the materials are not made for eternal usage; they are not built to last. Building your future on something – or more properly, on someone eternal guarantees a building that will last beyond the life on Earth.
It is interesting that the Bible uses the image of buildings and construction in describing our lives. Peter tells us that Jesus is our cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4); the heart of our foundation. The Psalmist tells us that the stone of Jesus “was rejected” by the other builders (Psalm 118:22), but that the foundation was laid by God Himself (Isaiah 28:16). Zechariah (Zechariah 10:4) shows the cornerstone would not be hewn from limestones in Bedford or granite from Athelstane. Instead, from Judah will come this tent peg, this battle bow, this cornerstone.
On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. How firm a foundation!