A good friend of mine and I recently decided that someday we want to build a raft and float away on an adventure, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn style. Turns out building a raft is relatively simple. If you tie the logs and poles together right, it seems as though a raft can be a pretty stable flotation device. They can carry you, an adventure buddy, food, elements of shelter, or anything else you might need, like a big trophy that looks like a shiny rock. We haven’t tried building a raft yet, but when we do I’ll let you know how many NITOC trophy rocks will fit.
Tuesday night I was trying to muster the willpower to finish St. Augustine’s City of God which is the most difficult tome I have ever read, because of the sheer enormity and depth. The second to last book, XXI, talks about the eternal punishment prepared for those who belong to the City of Men, rather than the City of God. Towards the end of the book, Augustine explores the difference between the two. He says that those who belong to the earthly city do not have Christ as their foundation, but those who belong to the Godly city do. Having Christ as your foundation means that all of your works are based on Him, and He is preferred to anything else in the world. Augustine quotes Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15: “Each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
For some reason, the image of a raft as a kind of foundation came to my mind and wouldn’t leave. It’s a surface on which to put everything you might need for the journey of life, but in order to even get started you first have to build your raft.
Today I graduate high school. I love looking forward to what is ahead, but I never want to lose sight of what is behind. ‘Part the first’ of my life is over, and that’s where the basis of the story is begun and the foundation is laid. I’m so glad my parents used my education at home to help me build a raft based on God’s Word and my Savior. Now as I and my fellow graduates move on through life, we’ll be adding onto that foundation. We have to make a definite choice to build with gold, silver, precious stones, things that will survive the testing of the fire on judgement day. If we fail to make a conscious effort, I have no doubt that soon we will end up with piles of wood, hay, and straw. Those things will quickly ignite and be gone, leaving nothing but a blackened stain on our raft.
My family knows that I love to make beautiful things. Crafting has always been one of my special niches. I want to continue adventuring on my raft, my foundation, my Jesus, and I want to add as many beautiful, eternal things as I can, by His Grace, so that by the end of my life I look back and see that it was not wasted. With high school behind me I want every year to be even more productive. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Last week I competed in my very last speech and debate tournament, the 2012 National Invitational Tournament of Champions. Speech and debate has been the best experience of my life, and it was an amazingly wonderful end to my career. I finished with a pretty satisfactory level of success and have two more small trophies to add to the others on my shelf. All my trophies from past years and tournaments have been made of shiny plastic. NITOC 2012 gave out trophies made of crystal, sparkly rocks, and shimmery geodes, as an ebenezer to the speakers’ theme: Jesus as the Rock, and a nod to the location of Colorado, land of the Rocky Mountains. I’ll add these new rocks onto my raft. They won’t outlast the fire, but they’ll remind me until then of the lessons I’ve learned and the skills I’ve acquired in the first seventeen years of my life, and those are things I don’t ever want to forget.