Underneath the Foundation

Under the Foundation

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1-3

Whenever I have seen a larger structure being built, it always amazes me how long it takes before all the foundation work is done. The rest of the building seems to rise almost instantaneously in comparison. A lot of that initial work is in the ground, underneath the concrete.

Our current blog theme is rebuilding. Much of our rebuilding focuses on recovery from Covid. That is needed. Some of our rebuilding discussion reaches out from that context and asks larger questions for today: What does the church need to look like? How do we as disciples live in this changing culture? What are the core beliefs and practices we need to continue to live out? What are secondary beliefs and practices that may need to be recontextualized? Rebuilding is hard work and usually requires change. For many people rebuilding feels like someone has pulled the rug out from under them.

A firm foundation is important. What we rebuild upon is crucial. The foundation we, as Christian, are always building and rebuilding on is our Triune God. Our faith is all about relationship. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all play crucial roles in calling and empowering us as we enter life and mission with God.

But what lies under the foundation? How do we know it will hold up in the shifting sands of culture? Ultimately, why do we trust God?

Most construction requires piles which anchor and support the foundation. Depending on the soil, piles need to be driven deep into the ground to ensure the stability of the entire structure. Using this analogy, I think of the character of God as the piles underneath the foundation.

We know we can trust God because we can count on the faithful love of God that always endures.

Chesed (or Hesed – the Romanized form of the word) is a Hebrew word used in the Old Testament. It appears over 250 times, more than half of those are in the Psalms. It’s difficult to translate. Some English attempts to do so are: “Unfailing love”, “faithful love”, “mercy”, “lovingkindness”, and “goodness”. It ultimately speaks of a deep faithful loving covenant commitment.

In Exodus 34, God allows Moses to catch a glimpse of his glory. As part of that revelation, he reveals His name, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” Moses finds out “Hesed” is part of the essential character of God, part of how he is known by us. This understanding refocuses Moses’ leadership after the golden calf.

Psalm 136 is a history of the nation of Israel in verse. Every line of their story is interwoven with the unfailing love of God. Through the good and the bad, times of flourishing and languishing, God’s faithful love endures forever. What a great way to recite their story! Think through your own story. Even though you may not always see it, “God’s faithful love endures forever” is interwoven into it as well. It could even be said that your story is part of a much larger story of God’s faithful love which endures forever.

“Hesed”, God’s faithful love, is like the piles in the ground that guarantees our foundation for rebuilding is strong and will not shift. It is the essential character of God that undergirds everything he does. As we debate what rebuilding is, and engage in the process, the way ahead is not clear. However, I hope and pray that for you, the faithful love of God that endures forever is crystal clear. May that assurance help all of us rebuild well.

Neil Bassignthwaighte
ServeCanada Director & Interim Prayer Catalyst