Sunday, July 10

How the Wise Man Built His House Upon the Sand

I've known the parable of the wise man for a long time. But what happens when there is only sand for miles around?

About thirty years ago, the Mexico City Mexico Temple was announced. The general location was chosen, and then geological engineers revealed to the project managers that they had a problem. The location, was above a massive underground lake, and while the ground was level and firm today, over time it had shifted and caused buildings in Mexico City to warp and collapse - the same way sand does in the rain, albeit on a longer timescale.

As a symbol of perseverance, faith, and the literal House of the Lord, a temple couldn't be built on a sandy and insecure foundation that would cause it to eventually collapse. But instead of abandoning the project, the engineers turned to science, and to God.

There actually was bedrock deep down underneath the Mexican soil, but even if the temple were built on a foundation twenty feet thick, there was no way to ensure that the sand and water wouldn't shift over time and cause the building's eventual collapse. So the engineers decided that they would build a house on the rock - through the sand. They took foot-long 18-inch cylindrical concrete blocks (pylons) and pounded them into the soft ground, one after another, until they hit bedrock. And then they did it again, and again, and again. In 220 different places within the base of the temple they wanted to secure, they pounded the beams into the ground, with many going over 100 feet down before finding a solid foundation. 220 pylons x 100 feet x 1.5 ft diameter = 38877 cubic feet of concrete, weighing almost 6 million pounds. On top of those pylons, connecting the surface to the deep foundation and stability, architects and engineers then began to build the actual foundation of the temple.

In most people's lives, just like in most places of the world, there is bedrock somewhere to be easily found. They can rely on it when hard times come. But in some cases it seems completely absent. I've seen that in my life, especially when it comes to homosexuality, addiction, and everything else involved. For years I tried to hold on to everything I could, but it all seemed to wash away like sand at the beach. And the world would tell me that being a gay Mormon is impossible, that falling in love and getting married to a girl is impossible, that staying true to the gospel and true to myself and finding happiness is impossible. And, at face value, alone, their statements are true. But with God, all things are possible. Being surrounded by sand doesn't mean that I can give up on building a house, even though it has fallen down around me more times than I can count. It just means I need to look harder, and dig deeper, to find the strength, hope, happiness, and peace I need.

In my life, the pylons on which I build my temple are the little things. Tens of thousands of blocks of meaningful scripture study, prayer, serving others, and sharing the gospel. Blocks of faith and hope and doing everything I can for years and years... sometimes without seeming to see results. In each case with the Mexico temple, the blocks continued to go deeper and deeper, disappearing without a trace... until they hit bedrock and would not move... which meant that a key to the construction was patience - patience to continue digging down. Each block seemed worthless as it disappeared beneath the soil, but as they all locked in place, each block suddenly bore part of the weight of the foundation. It was all worth it. And it was worth the wait, because the engineers knew what I know - no matter where you build, or what you are building, one thing is sure. Dig deep enough, and you will always hit bedrock.

In some places along my foundation, I've found bedrock. In most of the others, I'm still digging. And it's okay to dig - to pound concrete into the desert sands of my life. Because as I finish each of the pylons and connect to the bedrock deep in the principles of the gospel, I lay the foundation for my own life and find the strength, hope, peace, and happiness that I need. In a house built on the rock, through the sand.


  1. I call this using our strenghts to overcome our weaknesses. We can use the confidence we gain from our strengths and use that to fuel our efforts to overcome our weaknesses. -- Dallas

  2. What a beautiful and well-written analogy. Applicable in all kinds of situations, not just yours. I admire the strength of character you are building with your own pylons.


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