Hope floats and other flooring deceptions…

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But 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. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

-Matthew 7:24-27

The room is still a work in progress, but the deceptively beautiful floor is ready for display.
The room is still a work in progress, but the deceptively beautiful floor is ready for display.

When my sister moved into a rental house this summer, after living in her remodeled-to-perfection own home for 20 years, she was disappointed in the flooring.

“It’s laminate,” she told me, “and it just click-clacks and feels altogether different.”

Her own home had featured real wood, and when my husband and I decided to remodel our son’s room when he moved out in November, I was determined to get the real thing. I knew we were over this wall-to-wall carpet nonsense with its staining frustrations, and we wanted the warmth of wood vs. ceramic tile in a bedroom. But I also knew our house, especially this particular room, had limitations.

We live in a crack house. Except that we aren’t a bunch of druggies whooping it up inside four walls.

So maybe it would be better to say we live somewhere between Matthew 7:24 and Matthew 7:27. (And, no, that isn’t our street address.) Our house wasn’t built on a rock, which would be a wise thing. Our house wasn’t built on sand, which would be a foolish thing. It was, apparently, built somewhere in between—on clay—which is a frustrating thing.

For that means that as the clay dries or dampens it contracts and expands—and our house moves with it. That means that I have contracting and expanding cracks in walls and floors. That means sometimes wooden parquet floor tiles pop up to allow tripping or pop out to randomly disappear. That means ceramic tiles occasionally crack from the stress of the moving foundation. That means doorways sometimes shrink or become less square, and so doors don’t close properly and have to be shaved to fit. And that means when the building returns to its previous setting that we then have a door with a gap under it.

So, like the weather, the state of our house is constantly changing. In fact, you might say it is fluid. Which would explain why when we wanted a wood floor we were advised to make it a floating floor with the “click” wood rather than traditional wood. And you can be quite sure I wasn’t getting the wood laminate, which would give us the  “click-clack” sounds my sister so vehemently dislikes.

But if the state of our house is fluid, this bedroom’s floor fits it perfectly, because it rolls like the waves of the sea. The trouble started nearly 17 years ago when we discovered the child I had been harboring for nine months was another boy. (Actually, come to think of it, the trouble came more than 21 years ago, when the third boy arrived or when that lone girl arrived beforehand.) Regardless, this sprawling ranch-style crack house hosted only three bedrooms. Not enough for five children, at least by American standards. And so began the construction of the room where hope floats but floors deceive.

The room was originally built as a garage, not a bedroom. In our efforts to make this extra bedroom fit our house as if it nature and architects had intended it, we needed to raise the floor to house level. We should have left well enough alone, for the slab was poured poorly, and we would have done better with a sunken bedroom than the sea-like surface that resulted. Once covered with carpet, by appearances, the floor was fine, but you did have the sensation you were a drunken sailor when you attempted a straight path through the room.

Fast forward 16 years. The inhabitant (my now 26-year-old son) moved out, and we had an opportunity to make things right in that room. It was stripped of the stained carpet, repairs were made to loose and cracked tiles and a leaky shower, fresh paint was applied, a new door hung, and all that remained was to puzzle together the “click” wood for our floating floor. In preparation, the floor was “evened out” by our professional hired hand, not by sanding away the waves but by filling in the troughs. Rather unsuccessfully.

And so our beautiful (expensive), floating wood floor not only click-clacks due to the unevenness of the concrete, but it also has distinct waves and troughs in which we rise and sink with the fluidity of the floor.

“It will settle,” says our hired man.

I can only hope it will. For I know that we have. Settled for a less-than-perfect foundation that forces all that is built upon it to be less-than-perfect.

And what has settled in my mind is how important a firm, solid foundation truly is. In building and in life. In our building, a firm foundation would have allowed us to replace a soiled carpet with solid wood flooring. Our wavy floor and clay-influenced foundation forced us to choose something inferior. It looks beautiful. It will do the job.  It is definitely an improvement to the stained carpet recently housed there. Because it floats, it will flex with the imperfections of the foundation. But it isn’t perfect.

When Jesus talked about those Matthew 7 houses built either on rock or on sand, he was comparing them to people who hear His words and either put them into practice—or not so much. The wise man hears God’s Word and acts on it. The foolish man does not.

Like my house, I am probably somewhere in between those two places addressed as “wise” or “foolish” and described as “solid rock” or “sinking sand.” My house was built on mostly a good foundation, the bands of clay underneath have become evident as my home has settled through the years. My life is similar. I have been blessed to have a mostly firm foundation—an introduction to Jesus at an early age, good teaching, discipleship, and now the opportunity to mentor others—but I, like my house, have bands of clay within that foundation, misconceptions, misunderstandings, deceptions, and doubts. Those bands of clay have given rise to sea-like adventures in my life, when my doubts have allowed me to be “like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). I too often fail to act on the Word of God.

My house troubles are just surface issues that will remind me of the real trouble. My heart. Let my wood floor float over this faulty foundation, and let me step on it and be reminded that I must be settled on the True Firm Foundation. Jesus Christ. My Solid Rock.

My house’s foundation troubles are too costly to repair. My heart troubles are too costly not to repair. I must settle myself daily on the true foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word (and brace myself for my sister’s reaction when she click-clacks across my new floor).


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