BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
Building foundations with sapphires
By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
“Oh afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your walls of precious stones.”
Isaiah 54 verses 11-12..
Building foundations with sapphires….such a beautiful image God gives us in Isaiah 54. Imagine a building so beautiful that even the foundations, the parts hidden from view, are made from precious stones.
I believe one of the most beautiful buildings in the world is the Taj Mahal in India, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a monument of love for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. I’d seen pictures of it many times and was obviously impressed just seeing those before visiting it on a tour of India.
But on seeing it in the flesh, so to speak, it is absolutely breathtaking. Inlaid with precious stones both inside and out, it really is a sight worth travelling thousands of miles to see. However, this monument of love built by a man for a woman is nothing in comparison to God’s promise in Isaiah 54 when God speaks to His people of what He will build in them.
Not just walls inlaid with precious stones but the very foundations of the building made from them! Even for what is not seen, God promises to use only the best materials.
God speaks in Matthew’s gospel about building our ‘house’ upon rock and not sand (Matthew 7: 24-27). Throughout scripture we read many references to the importance of good foundations in life. Clearly without good foundations, as Jesus states in the parable, a house can easily fall down in a storm. The meaning in this is that a life can easily be shaken in the trials of life if the person’s roots are not going down into something solid and dependable – God is clearly very interested in what is at the centre of our lives, what we have when everything around us is shaken or destroyed.
On January 29th 2012, God took something from me that I’d not expected and was not prepared for – my husband of 9½ years, David. Of course, nothing can prepare you for such a loss, but it was particularly unexpected as only 18 months previously we’d adopted two children as our first choice for starting a family. It looked, from my worldly perspective that the timing couldn’t be worse. How was I to cope without the love of my life, bringing up two boys who were only in the early stages of bonding with their new parents? Much of their time with us had been overshadowed by David’s illness as he was initially diagnosed only three months after they moved in.
Our attitude throughout David’s illness had been to choose to trust God: trust that He knew the outcome and knew what was best for us all, whilst praying frequently and unceasingly for a miracle of healing.
It was easy for us and others to rationalise a healing miracle – David was only 38, he’d just become a father through the first choice of adoption because we felt as a couple God had put that on our hearts, he’d given up his well paid job at a car manufacturer to work voluntarily at our local church – what more logical solution could there be?
But ‘the wisdom of man is foolishness to God’ (1 Corinthians 3:19) and God had a different plan.
And so I found myself late on that Sunday night facing a very different future to the one I’d expected. I left the hospice and knew I had a choice. It was a choice for that moment but one which I knew would define the future too. I could choose to go to bed and try to sleep through the tears and pain, or I could choose to get down on my knees before God and declare I still trusted Him, in spite of what He’d just taken from me: ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3 verses 5-6). I knew which choice I had to make.
So how has God fulfilled His promise of building my foundations with sapphires? Unfortunately very painfully! What sounds so beautiful is not achieved easily. I’m sure there were injuries, if not lives lost in the building of the Taj Mahal, such a beautiful monument surely could not have been constructed without some physical pain. For me to have my foundations built by God with his materials has meant having some of the foundations that were there already, removed.
When God took David away, one of the most firm foundations in my life was removed, and not surprisingly with a large foundation gone, the whole building becomes unsteady and starts to fall.
I can see now as I look back that as God took out that foundation in my life by His plan, He allowed the ‘building’ that I was to fall down and crumble in many ways, but always He had in mind His plan for me….to build a better building, based on His solid foundations of sapphires. A building which would ultimately be more beautiful in His eyes than anything it had been before. And more solid, and therefore more fit for its purpose. I am not able to say and probably will never be able to say that I am glad He did this work in me in this way. But I can’t argue that the work He has done, and is still doing is good.
I’ve never regretted that choice in those few hours after David died – I thank God for it as I believe it has truly shaped my path forward. I can see now that making that choice to trust God was the first tiny little sapphire God set in my new foundations.
In Isaiah 54, God was originally talking to His people Israel and the literal city of Jerusalem – to be re-built in heaven of precious stones.
But as God so often does, He has used His word to speak specifically to me. I was the ‘afflicted’ city, ‘storm-tossed’ and ‘not comforted’. Praise God that in our most difficult times He gives us hope through the promises of His Word. I am so grateful for what He has already done in my life, and I wait in hope and expectation for all that He still plans to do.
Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo
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Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.
Andrew on evangelism, how we are all evangelists whether we like it or not, and how to evangelise easily.
Dawne on the parable of the lost sheep and the lessons we can take from it as followers of Jesus and members of His flock.
Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job
Nicki on serving at Newday and the impact it has had on all three Frodsham children and many, many others
Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.
Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.
Sylvia on being an encourager: “God knows our troubles. When we open up to Him, He’ll use other people to encourage us through His word.”
Lynne on doing what God wants us to do even when we really don’t want to do it – and why it’s important
Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.
Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible
Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.
Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.
Nicki on how she was planning to work in the marketing and advertising industry until God led her in a different direction.
Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.
Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.
Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.
Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.
Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!
Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.
Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.
Helen on how preparations for Christmas vary from family to family and country to country. And what happened to Helen’s Lindt advent chocolates?