They are building new houses all over our neighborhood. Across the street, next door, around the corner in the newest section of the development. Becky and I are active spectators of the sport. Slab or basement, I’m pretty good at figuring out whether it will be a two-story or single-story house (two-story houses tend to have a smaller footprint). Once the framing is up, we like to walk through the soon-to-be spaces imagining what they will be – master bedroom or living area, den or dining room. And, yes, as construction continues, we can be quite the critics. We would not have chosen that color and that architectural detail is more doodad than not.
The building process always begins with some basic site work and then the forms, footings, and foundation. Slab or basement, once the foundation is poured, the work stops for a while. Framing cannot begin until the concrete is cured, and curing takes two weeks or more. You must have a firm foundation in order to build a trustworthy house.
That’s where Hunter Biden comes in.
After decades of drug abuse, the president’s son went to rehab (frankly, again) and has been clean for maybe nine months or so following a family intervention at some point during the 2020 general election campaign. Good for him. Really good. May he find the strength and encouragement he needs to beat the demon.
Hunter Biden has told the story of his addiction, apparently in all its dramatic detail, in a recently published memoir, Beautiful Things. I have not read the book, and do not intend to, so my response is based on several reviews, glowing and not so glowing, along with clips from the book tour interviews that are popping up here and there.
Not having read the book, I have no argument with its content. But I am worried about its timing. I wish Hunter had waited a little longer to tell his story. I wish he could give us a better sense that something is different this time.
One of the keys to the success of the Twelve-Step program is the sponsor, a longer-term member of the group, assigned a newcomer. The sponsor is something of a mentor, coach, and accountability partner. Understanding sobriety and its challenges helps make an effective sponsor. The length of one’s sobriety is not the only factor in determining if one might be a good sponsor, but it is an important factor. It is unlikely that his Twelve-Step group would ask Hunter Biden to serve as a sponsor for a newly recovering addict – not yet.
The foundation of Hunter Biden’s life of sobriety is not yet cured.
Jesus knew about the need to test foundations. It is when the rain falls, the floods rise, and winds blow, that you know whether the foundation was wisely laid or not.
The church has too often built ministries on foundations that are not ready to bear the burden of giving authentic witness to the Gospel. Local churches rush new converts into telling the stories of having been born again, the more dramatic the details the better the testimony. Or succumbing to our own media obsession in our media obsessed culture, Christians love the stories of celebrity converts whose faith may not yet have been tested (1 Peter 1:6-7). How disappointed we are when the conversion proves to be more confusion than transformation.
Once the foundation for a new house in the neighborhood is cured, it takes five months or so until the house is completed and the new neighbors to move in. If the foundation has been well-laid, the owners will never think about it again.
Friends in recovery say that unlike a new house, sobriety is never something to be considered as having been completed. It is a process, a life-long journey. You think about it all the time.
The Christian life, too, is more journey than destination, though we know where we’re bound when this life is over. In the meantime, the rain falls, the floods rise, and the winds blow. Sometimes after a storm, you must repair the foundation on which you have been building lest the house falls, and great is the fall of it.
I wish Hunter Biden well as he does the hard work of recovery. As for me, rains still fall, floods still rise, winds still blow. I have some foundation work of my own to do – learning to be more diligent in prayer, more attentive to scripture, more focused in worship, more consistent serving, more loving in relationships.