March 21—A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God,

a bulwark never failing;

our helper he, amid the flood

of mortal ills prevailing. (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther)

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24–27 NLT)

One of the most famous buildings in the world is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which, due to a shallow foundation and unstable soil, has been standing at an angle since nearly the beginning of its construction. It was originally intended to serve as a freestanding bell tower for the nearby cathedral, but due to its somewhat unique nature it is more widely known for the tilt of the tower. Over its lifetime, there have been a number of ways architects and engineers have mitigated the lean of the tower so that it could continue to be used as intended and prevent it from outright collapsing. During construction of the upper floors, the walls on the lower side were built taller to allow the top of the tower to be a bit more level. More recently, as the tower began to lean even more severely and threatened to collapse, 800 metric tons of lead weights were added to the raised side, cables were attached to the third floor and anchored several hundred meters away, and seventy metric tons of soil were removed from the ground, all to mitigate the issues inherent in a flawed foundation.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is such a captivating sight because it should not have survived for the past 800 years, yet it still stands. If we were able to take our lives – our hearts, souls, beliefs, practices, and habits – and construct buildings out of them, many of us would very likely draw the same crowds that flock to Pisa, this time to bear witness to the life that was built on a poor foundation and needed to take extraordinary efforts to remain standing. If we established a firm foundation for ourselves through listening to the words of Jesus and putting them into practice, as He calls us to at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we would be better equipped for our intended purpose, serving our King and bringing Him glory. Spend as much time as you need to allow your spirit to discern, in full cooperation with the Holy Spirit, what teachings from Jesus you need to put into practice to build your foundation on a solid rock.