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The land where our house sits used to be flanked by two large gullies, one on either side. When we built the house, it was common practice to fill large holes with debris from the property and or unused building materials. Around 1995 that practice was outlawed. But since ours was constructed in ’93, the contractor filled the two gullies with the debris. Once the house was completed, the landscapers smoothed out the areas and packed it down with their bulldozers. Then, they planted grass, and all was well ………… until about ten years later.
We noticed the ground began to sink where one of the gullies had been. We weren’t too concerned and contributed it to erosion. It wasn’t until my wife was mowing the yard one day that it became apparent. There was more below the surface than was visible from above. Or should I say, there was less below the surface than was visible from above. As she was walking behind the push mower, the ground suddenly caved in and she fell into a deep hole up to her waist. Upon further inspection, we discovered about a twenty-foot wide area that was mostly a thin crust being held together by a few supporting lumps of dirt and roots. We could only assume that the debris had completely decomposed or that the rain had washed the dirt out below the grass. To be continued …….
We were in Guatemala in May of 2010 when a similar event happened, only on a much grander scale. The country had been pummeled by Tropical Storm Agatha. I remember walking through waist-high water to get to my friend’s house for a visit. There was tremendous damage in the area near Antigua where we were staying. To the south-west, mudslides from Volcan Agua destroyed portions of the village of San Miguel Escobar; roads and bridges were completely washed away.
On the front page of the paper, we saw the picture above. It was unbelievable. In Guatemala City, a large sinkhole, 66 feet wide by 100 feet deep, had swallowed an entire three-story building. In an article from Discovery.com, scientists warned that this was not a sinkhole, (from Discovery.com/earth) but was the result of the city being built on soft volcanic ash. They fully expect that it will happen again. And again.
In chapter 7 of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus told a parable about two men who built houses: one built his house on rock while the other built his on sand. The story ends like this:
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
No one would deliberately build a house on a foundation that they knew would wash away in a rain storm. Why would you risk that kind of ruin? Yet when we ignore Jesus, that is precisely what we are doing. It does us no good to hear his words if we don’t put them into practice.
Back to our own sink-hole story……. Jane and I paid to have a dump truck load of dirt brought in to fill the hole and level it out again. So its safe to visit us; you don’t need to worry about being swallowed up by the earth.
Today’s mug is raised to those who are living on unstable ground. May you turn to Jesus and his words to find a firm foundation on which to build your life!