I had the privilege of being in Mexico this weekend with some fine individuals, in Puerto Peñasco, outside the city, in one of the barrios de los pobres. The trip itself was delightful, I watched strangers and foreigners become a small community oriented around a singular purpose, building a modest home for Maria.
We spent a proportionally large amount of time on the foundation and labored intensely, mixing the concrete by hand, leveling and smoothing it until it was just so (a truly anal retentive process). Of course just as we were leaving one of the vagabond perros that roam the neighborhood ran right across. Grinning, perhaps gritting, we again smoothed it down and headed back to camp wondering what would happen to it in our absence.
I lead the devotional that evening, inspired by our sandy surroundings to turn Jesus’ longest sermon in the Gospel of Matthew. I spoke briefly about worry; if God takes care of birds, grass and dogs in the barrio then perhaps we ought to be less concerned. The first century Palestinians listening to the sermon had a great deal more in common with homeless Maria in the barrio than with us. She has a greater cause to worry than I do. My list of worries ranges from money, to the future, the trip we were currently on and even, perhaps especially, for Maria. Being told to focus on the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, remains difficult for me despite my comfortable circumstances. The real insight for the evening came from one of the many remarkable women on the trip. She commented on our investment in the foundation and the reason for this: if the foundation was sound the rest of the house would follow suit. Our lives are indeed like houses and the foundation upon which we build them, though it may not be as obviously important as the paint and trim, is nonetheless crucial. We would have had a miserable time plumbing walls and handing our door if the bedrock on which they stood wasn’t perfect. We are told that God cares for us and if we focus on our response to him then perhaps the rest will indeed follow.