But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
(John 14.26 NRSV)
Over 70 years ago, Japan asked the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a hotel for Tokyo that would be capable of surviving an earthquake. When Wright visited Japan to inspect the site where the Imperial Hotel was to be built, he was appalled to find that the soil there was only about eight feet deep. Beneath that was 60 feet of soft mud that slipped and shook like jelly. Every test hole he dug filled up immediately with water. Now a lesser individual probably would have given up right there. But not Wright.
Since the hotel was going to rest on fluid ground, Wright decided to build it like a ship. So instead of trying to keep the structure from moving during a quake, he incorporated features that would allow the hotel to ride out the shock without damage. Wright knew that the major cause of destruction after an earthquake was fire, because water lines would break and there would be no way to put out the fire. So he insisted on a large outdoor pool in the courtyard of his hotel, “just in case.”
On September 1, 1923, Tokyo had the greatest earthquake in its history. There were fires all over the city, and 140,000 people died. News reports were slow in getting to the U.S. One newspaper wanted to print the story that the Imperial Hotel had been destroyed, as rumor had it. But when a reporter phoned Frank Lloyd Wright about it, he said that they could print the story if they liked, but they would only have to retract it later. He knew the hotel would not collapse. Shortly afterward, Wright got a telegram from Japan. The Imperial Hotel was completely undamaged. And when the fires that raged all around the hotel threatened to spread, bucket brigades kept the structure wetted down with water from the hotel’s pool.
Frank Lloyd Wright knew about foundations. So does Jesus. He does not want his followers out in the world witnessing to something that they have not really experienced for themselves, so He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit as an internal witness. We do not have to simply depend on a story that we heard long ago. God is forever fresh in our hearts.