Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Walls

We humans are really good at building walls.  We build them to protect us from nature, and we build them to protect us from each other.  In Biblical times, a wall was a city's best defense from its enemies, and a weakness in the wall could be a city's demise.  Walls are built thick and strong to do their job of keeping out anything or anyone that could cause harm.

We are really good at building emotional walls, too.  When we experience something painful or sense that something might hurt us, we throw up that wall to defend ourselves from further attack.  Some of us have grown so weary of the world that we never let that wall come down.  It stands tall and strong, keeping out any who might try to come close, whether friend or foe.  It is, for sure, a defense mechanism that we have turned to out of the instinct of self-preservation.

David writes in Psalm 18:2, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety."  Later, he says in Psalm 94:22, "But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide."

We don't have to build our own walls; God will be that protective wall for us.  I love the idea of Him being my fortress.   A fortress is described as being a heavily protected and impenetrable building.  When we hide in our Lord, we are SAFE.  Our enemies cannot hurt us.

But what if God's protection for us doesn't always come in the form of prevention?  What if His being our mighty wall doesn't mean that we never get hurt, but that He gives us the strength to endure the pain?  What if His way of keeping us "safe" means that He gives us the ability to extend grace and mercy to the person that is hurting us?

You see,  I am convinced that when Jesus said he came to bring us "life to the fullest" (John 10:10), He meant that not only would we experience great joy, but also deep sorrow.  It is in those moments of sorrow and intense pain that we experience the true depth of God's grace and provision.  It is in those moments that we learn to trust Him completely.  But if we live our lives cowering behind a wall that we have built, we will never have the opportunities for those experiences.

I am positive that there has not been a single person on the face of the earth who has not been hurt by another person in some way.  Each of us has experienced betrayal of one kind or another, sometimes by the people who are closest to us and profess to love us the most.  Whether it is a parent, a child, a sibling, a close friend or a spouse, when someone that we love hurts us, our first instinct is to pull away and build a wall between them and us.  And even when we re-enter a relationship with that person, we do so with that wall still in place.

What I am suggesting is that you can trust God to be your protector.  You can trust Him to be your fortress.  You can enter or re-enter relationships with people knowing that God is protecting you.  But it might not look the way you expect it to.  Those same hurtful situations may happen again (in fact, you can almost bet that they will), but when they do, God will sustain you through those circumstances.  He may protect your emotions by not letting things hurt as deeply.  He may change your reaction to one of compassion and sympathy rather than defensiveness.  Whatever He chooses to do, you can trust Him to carry you through.  God will not let you down, and you cannot let our enemy convince you that experiencing a hurtful situation is evidence that God has abandoned you!  "Never will I leave you or forsake you," He says. (Hebrews 13:5)

Tear your walls down, friends.  Hide instead in the fortress of God's love and mercy, and trust Him to provide the strength you need to endure hurtful situations.  Allow Him to use those situations to shape you into an image more like Himself.  Yes, life hurts sometimes, but God is with you, strengthening you and providing everything you need in those circumstances.  He will not let you down!  I close with these words from Isaiah 12:2:
"Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”

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