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How Important Are Foundations?

October 29, 2009

When we think of foundations, unless you are a builder, you probably don’t have a clue what that is about.  A foundation is a massive structure which has to support the weight of the building.  A small building needs a small foundation.  A big building needs a big foundation.  Construction of simple homes in America have weak foundations because they support houses which are very light weight.  In Cambodia, for example, a simple one storey building will have a solid concrete block at every corner and spaced at intervals of about 12 feet which are 3-4 feet deep and 3-4 feet across.  They need bigger and stronger foundations because we use heavy concrete, stone, bricks and concrete tiles in our construction.  In America, because homes are made out of lightweight pine, dry-wall and shingles they do not carry much weight so they often just pour a thin slab which is actually not anchored to the ground, but just sitting on it.  My house in Cambodia (made to be strong) has multiple pilings which go into the ground about 15 feet at every corner and load point and each piling can support 160,000 to 200,000 pounds. Because the foundation is strong, it can support a much taller building (my house/ hotel is 4 storey’s tall.  It is tall, but quite narrow).

Do you know that after a building is built you can’t even see the foundations?  It takes 30-40% of the time to build a house just to make sure the foundation is right and strong.  Yet, it is something you will never see.  Recently in China there was a demonstration of the importance of foundations.  One day in June when there was some strong wind and an entire 13 storey building just fell over.  It was a new development for poor people (project housing).

Building Collapse in Shainghai

When it fell over it was easy for them to find out why it did so.  When the building collapsed the foundation was revealed.  The foundation of my house is stronger than the foundation that went into that massive building.  The contractor tried to cheat knowing that no one would be able to see the foundation.  He underestimated the importance of a foundation.  This multi-storey building actually stood for a while and it is surrounded by more buildings which are still standing (and likely do not have a strong enough foundation).  No matter how nice the building looks on the outside, it was doomed to collapse.

footings of building collapse

When I think of nations, I think of foundations.  America thinks that they had a strong foundation, yet it is certainly changing rapidly.  What was righteous and proper before, is now opposed and just considered a new opportunity to expand personal freedoms.  America was discovered in 1492, yet has only been a sovereign nation since 1776.  Cambodia officially became a nation in the year 802.  Since it was founded, there is been massive changes.  On several occasions the entire nation has changed religions: from animistic, to Brahmanism, to Mahayana Buddhist, to Theravada Buddhist, to Atheist and more recently large numbers of people are converting to Christianity.  There has been political upheaval and genocide several times in their history.  Why?  The only thing that I can determine is that this is part of their “culture” and “worldview” which comes directly from their foundation.  The United States’ foundations are being tested every day.  It is a very young country and may not survive.  The building looks impressive. We are the richest nation in the world by far.  But just like that multi-storey building in China, if our foundations are not correct, or they become destroyed or eroded, when a strong wind comes the building will collapse.  What value is a 13 storey building laying on its side?  It is worthless.  In fact, everything that was put into the building, the millions of dollars spent, the thousands of working hours are all for nothing.  What was once an impressive structure will only be demolished and used for filler material on another building site.

I am not an expert builder, but I think we have to be sure we always build our nations, our lives and our families on a solid foundation.  That foundation must be a foundation of righteousness, holiness and obedience to God’s commands.  No exceptions.  We wouldn’t want our nation to fall over like that building in China.

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth Ward permalink
    October 29, 2009 3:23 pm

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with Cheryl Bryan years ago. She felt like God was tearing our family’s outer structure down so that He could rebuild the foundation. It wasn’t a happy process, and the picture of the collapsed building is an appropriate analogy of how it feels. The end result of a firm foundation is worth it though and I’m thankful that God has done foundation work on our lives. This is a thought provoking article. I hope to see God rebuilding the foundation of many nations in the same manner and have learned to be thankful for the collapse that proceeds the rebuilding.

  2. hassan permalink
    September 21, 2013 8:06 pm


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