Monday, April 18, 2011

How Firm A Foundation

I know it's a Christmas picture, but I just love the Salt Lake Temple. I'm always humbled to think about how much was sacrificed to erect this magnificent edifice. It's beautiful both outside and in. It stands as a beacon; a shining testimony of the truth held dear by Pioneer Saints of the importance of temples and the work done therein. The part of the temple not seen, however, is my favorite story to hear.

The account is given of how the Saints intially built the foundation of this structure using sandstone. They completed the foundation only to have to bury it for fear of the US Army coming through the valley. Once they uncovered the foundation, they were disheartened to realize that the stones they had worked to lay for years had cracked. The wrenching decision was reached to remove the sandstone foundation and replace it with granite. The effort took years, but was worth it as the granite foundation has held up the temple that has become a symbol of faith for millions. The Saints knew that only a sure foundation would be able to hold the weight of the temple. It had to be built carefully, one stone at a time. It had to be exact, so that the pressures it was under would not cause it to collapse.

Our spiritual foundations are just as crucial in supporting us through the pressures and trials we face, as the physical foundations are in supporting buildings like the Salt Lake Temple. Recently I've experienced a trial in my life that has given me pause and caused me to honestly examine my foundation of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. How have I built my foundation? On whom does it rest? And is it really strong enough to withstand the pressures in my life?

A scripture came to mind of an account Christ gave of the wise and the foolish man in Matthew 7:24-27. He states "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

When I am afflicted with the rains, and the floods, and the winds of life I know that I can withstand, because I have built my foundation on the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have faith in my Savior, in God's plan, and in His ability to help me stand firm in times of trial. If I hold true and faithful to the covenants that are my foundation, then I know I can weather life's storms. This doesn't mean that the storms won't come. In fact, I think the winds, the floods, and the rains try harder to tear down those houses that are built upon the rock. But if we have built ourselves up as carefully as the Saints did in laying the granite foundation for the Salt Lake Temple, then our foundations will be sure, solid, inmovable, and able to withstand the tempest.

In the Book of Mormon, Jacob teaches the Nephities, "This stone (meaning Christ) shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the [we] can build." (Jacob 4:16) Later, Helaman exhorts his sons, "Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

As we carefully lay the foundations of our faith in Christ, as we keep His covenants and obey His laws, He has promised that we cannot fall. When we're beaten down, we will be there to lift us up again, to strengthen our feeble knees, and keep us on the path to eternal life.

It is foolish to believe, however, that we don't need to take care in building our foundation. Haphazard efforts in laying our spiritual cornerstones would be as ludicrous as thinking that throwing stones into a trench would create a solid base for a building. Firming our foundations takes precision, effort, and time. But once laid, it becomes our anchor in the storm.

One of the greatest examples to me of a firm foundation is Captain Moroni. The scriptures state, "He was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ...Yea verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." (Alma 48:13,17) What a character statement! If we could be like Moroni, firm in the faith of Christ, what a difference it would make in our lives. How crucial it is to build our foundation firmly on the gosepl of Christ. Only then will we "be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)

In the hymn "How Firm A Foundation" it reads,

"How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for yor faith in his excellent word!
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am they God and will still give aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

God will never forsake us in our times of need if we build our foundation of trust on Him. Though He won't stop the storms from coming, if we are firm in our faith He will enable us to weather whatever trials may come. When the tempest is raging, He will always be there to calm the winds and the waves. And I know that because my foundation is built upon Christ, I will always be able to stand.

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