We purchased our three year old Temecula house back in ’88, with a pathetic patio cover put in the back yard by the previous owner. A landscape guy, not a builder. Oh, it looked nice, but the 4x4 posts soon rotted from being in contact with the dirt, and the header and rafters were much too flimsy and far apart to support anything. Insert “hammock” here. So when we replaced it we had a contractor build a covered patio, to code, and I watched how he did it. Our next step—put in a lattice patio cover and pavers for the ground level in the front for evening sunsets.
So I checked out how to install the pavers so they wouldn’t sink, and went by the building department to learn the code requirements for the cover. What you see above shows the foundations of both. For the pavers, I excavated down 5 inches and leveled the dirt, then covered it with 2 inches of road base, compacted and leveled it. Next will come over an inch of sand, also compacted and leveled before the 2 inch pavers get laid down.
The footings for the patio cover posts were 18” x 18” x 12” deep, about 800 lbs of dry concrete, with three column bases imbedded in it.
Honestly, it doesn’t look like much at this point, but my body proclaims a lot of labor and measuring went into it, and the hardest part is now complete. Once the SoCal rain stops, the sand and pavers will go in and the patio cover will go up. Fairly quickly, I hope. But all that work, and soreness, provides a sense of security. This patio will likely last longer than we live here. Why? The foundations are solid. To code.
Think of that as a metaphor for building a life with Jesus. First, it needs to match the code, not appearances, not taking shortcuts, not how we feeling. Our city has an easy format to follow for covers; ours is God’s word. It has all we need to stand strong.
But more than just following the code, it takes hard work, sweat, blisters, and aching muscles. In the spiritual life, we call that obedience. And while knowing what to do may be clear, the doing involves struggles. Struggles against our desires to determine our lives. Struggles against the desires to sin that we all possess. Struggles to stay on track. Jesus said that himself, “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. The 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” (Matthew 7:24-25).
I feel pretty confident my patio will stand the storms to come. I want my spiritual life to do the same.
Kick Starting the Discussion
Think about your spiritual building code. What are your sources? Feelings? Pragmatism? Habits? Society? How deep does God’s word penetrate into your values, your sense of right and wrong, in crafting the details of your life? Should it be more important? How can you achieve that?
Also, how good are you on building that foundation of following Jesus’ commands? Are you asking yourself the hard questions about excuses? How well do you balance the twin realities of truth and grace?