When Walls Crumble

When all around us gives way and begins to crumble, our man-made walls. And we are left standing in pile of rubble and dried up mortar. It was our walls and our “home” that we tried so hard to build. We didn’t know how unqualified we were to take on such a project. So often we feel like we can handle things on our own, but when life crumbles, all that we have built up crumbles too.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it, unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain.” (Ps 127:1)

For so long you have been camping out behind walls and an image that you have tried to build up. We build on shaky, unstable ground. We build in vain. When God is the one building our “house” we receive the benefit of peace and security.

Let’s let Him fashion our walls, building us up with greater purpose.

Lay down your tools.

Lay down your pride.

Lay down your defenses.

Let God build you back up.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” (Ps 91:1-2)

We don’t have to build walls only to watch them crumble. We don’t have to be afraid because we have a refuge from the storm and He is Mighty. He will be our refuge and our strong tower. Let Him whisper these words to you:

Run to me.

Rest in me.

Dwell in my shadows.

And then go forth empowered from on high.

Don’t fear the things thrown at you by the enemy; I will be your shield.

Set your love on me and know I will deliver you and build you back up better than ever!

Walls

We all have them. Walls we’ve built. Some are taller and deeper than others. But if we were honest we’d all confess to at least a few extra bricks surrounding our hearts.
We build our walls with good intentions. We desire protection, safety, security. None of these desires are wrong. It’s the bricks we use that are the problem.
Brick after brick of fear… isolation… anger… hurt…
One by one they are pieced together until the world is shut out.
Pastors, counselors, and good friends will tell you walls are bad. But I think… maybe… that I disagree. Allow me to explain.
I was listening to a CD recently when a line from one of the songs jumped out at me:
Your walls are Salvation, Your gates are praise.
I googled it… It’s actually scripture. The words are found in Isaiah 60:18.
My walls are fear.
My gates are isolation.
God’s walls are salvation.
His gates are praise.
In ancient times city walls were immensely important. They protected the city. Provided safety and security to all who dwelt there. The gates were guarded and no one was allowed to enter the city walls without permission.
Imagine your heart as a city. In it dwells your emotions, your desires, your dreams. Imagine giving that “city” to God. Imagine Him building a wall of protection around that “city”. I imagine He would take great care in constructing that wall. Using bricks of love, peace, joy. Carefully fastening gates. Patiently building a watchtower. Then upon the completion of that wall He would take His place in the watchtower, guarding the gates to the city. All who entered must pass through his critical gaze. All who come in must first gain His permission.
What if we didn’t have to spend our days watching and guarding. What if we didn’t have to spend sleepless nights restacking bricks. What if we could simply rest, laugh, and love trusting that whatever enters has first passed through gates of praise.
A few verses earlier in Isaiah it says “your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut day or night”. How can we accomplish that? How can we live with an always open heart?
We doing it by tearing down the walls built by our own hands and hiding our hearts behind walls of salvation. We do it by walking away from our post as the guardian of our hearts and allowing Him who never sleeps nor slumbers to take watch. We do it by trusting that whatever He allows to enter through the gates of praise, though it may be painful, will ultimately bring glory.
It’s not the wall that’s the problem. It’s the builder.
Who’s building your wall?

Wall Builder

Dear Wall Builder,

What if the walls you build keep the blessings of God out?

You build them so high; you build them so strong with cold, lonely stones.

With each hurt and careless word spoken that cuts to the core, another wall goes up to protect a heart that is becoming calloused.

I used to be a wall builder just like you. I would build them so high, trapped inside by fear with the illusion of safety. We build walls to protect and then we wonder why we feel so alone and isolated. Hurts happen as life unfolds without our permission and we add another layer to our steel walls and calloused hearts.

We become wall builders. Watching with piercing eyes wondering who will dare to approach our fortress of isolation, secretly wishing that someone would cause those walls to crumble, yet protect us from the things we fear the most.

But, what if I told you it was time for you to tear down those walls? Would you dare leave your heart unattended? Friend, I want to introduce you to a God that longs to be a fire around you, protecting you in such a way that deep inside the very heart of you is everything that you have need of.

Our walls are before the God of all creation.

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Is 49:16 NIV)

With nail-pierced hands He reaches out to you today.

Then I looked up- and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.” Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’ (Zec 2:1-5 NIV)

1.)  Your heart no longer needs man-made walls. He longs to give you the vastness of His blessings within.

2.)  The Lord Himself will be a wall of fire around you, protecting you!

3.)  He will be the glory within!

Father, we come to you longing for you to tear down our walls and build our hearts up with the knowledge that you are the God who has engraved us on the palms of your hands. God be the fire around us protecting us, shaping us into Your image. Build us up to be more like you and be the glory within. God, we thank you that within us is all that we have need of.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

No more building walls!

Broken Walls

The walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates destroyed by fire. Neh. 2:13

This could just as easily read “the walls of Keri were broken down and her gates destroyed by fire”. Or maybe “the walls of ________ were broken down and her gates destroyed by fire”.

There’s something so sad and wrong about broken down walls. Destruction that is brought by an enemy and leaves a city defenseless. When Nehemiah heard about the destruction in Jerusalem his heart was broken:

“So the King asked me ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’ ‘Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’” Neh. 2:2-3

He grieved for his city, for the broken walls and destroyed gates. It’s even worse when it’s not city walls destroyed, but hearts. When wrong is done to us and our hearts are invaded and overtaken by an enemy. When we are left broken and burned. Torn down and destroyed. And our broken hearts grieve and mourn the loss of innocence and security.

Cities with broken walls are vulnerable to attacks. They are unsafe. Unsecure. And so are we when our hearts have been broken. We feel naked and afraid. So we do the only thing we know to do. We rebuild the wall.

Only this time we build not to keep out the enemy, but to keep out everyone. Because no one can be trusted with our heart. No one can be given the opportunity to hurt us again.

We build in isolation, a thick, impenetrable wall that cannot be scaled by God or man. We build walls with no gates, no entry way, no access to our hearts. Walls to shut the world out. Walls to shut our hearts up.

It’s hard work, building an impenetrable wall. Constantly being on guard. Forever afraid of being hurt again. We know the wall we’re building is wrong, but every time we stop for a minute we remember the broken wall, the burned gates, and the pain. We can’t risk letting that happen again. So, we square our shoulders against the world and keep building.

The only problem with building a wall to protect our hearts from being hurt is that it doesn’t work. No wall built by our hands will shield us from the pain and sorrow of this world.

Maybe it’s time to admit that the wall building isn’t working. Maybe it’s time to stop, let go of the brick in your hand and surrender. Maybe it’s time to invite Jesus behind the wall, and let Him hide you under the shadow of His wing. (Psalm 17:8)

Broken Girl

How long, O God, will your daughters suffer in darkness? How long will their silent cries go unanswered? How long will they be trapped in their pain?

How long will they be abused? Mistreated by the ones who should protect them. Rejected by the ones who should love them. How long will they carry the shame of what’s been done to them. Of what they’ve done to themselves?

Human trafficking. Sex slaves. Assault. Molestation. Rape. Abandonment. Abuse.

Beauty defiled. Purity marred.

Do you hear their cries, God? Do you see them, in the dirty hovels, in the back alleys, in their father’s beds?

You must. How can you stand it God? When I can hardly contain the anger, the sorrow I feel. How can you stand it when your beloved child is robbed of her innocence?

And what are we to do?

What am I to say to the broken girl; in the mirror, across the table, on the other end of the phone, on the other side of the world?

How do I tell her about hope, when all she’s known is despair?

How do I tell her about love, when all she’s known is abuse?

How do I tell her about truth, when all she’s known is lies?

You love her, Jesus, don’t you? You love me, too. You love all of the broken girls. You don’t see us as marred, do you? You think we’re beautiful. Even with dirty hands and broken hearts.

The world says we are rejected.

You say we belong.

The world says we are marred.

You say we are whole.

The world says we are tainted.

You say we are pure.

The world says we are an object to be used.

You say we are of infinite value, and are to be treasured.

The world says we are damaged goods.

You say we are perfection.

Still it’s hard God. The lies are so loud. So deafening. It’s hard to hear the truth, harder still to believe it.

God, tonight, will you hold your girls? Will you tell us that you love us? Will you remind us one more time? We need to hear it again. Bring light into our darkness, Father. Breathe new life into our hard and jaded hearts. Break the chains that hold us. Give us strength to stand. To believe. To be free.

Love,

The broken girls

In case you haven’t noticed, my heart is very heavy today. Everywhere I look it seems as if I’m surrounded by broken girls, hiding in their pain, trying to cover up their shame. It makes me mad. And it makes me want to cry. I can only imagine how it makes my God feel. If you are a broken girl, can I remind you that you are loved? Can I remind you that you are beautiful? That nothing in your past or your present disqualifies you from being loved and accepted! He has loved you with an everlasting love. He doesn’t want you to stay broken. He wants to put you back together again. Will you let Him?

Apathy

Last week I wrestled with the verse in Mat. 5:4 that says “happy are those that mourn”. I can’t quiet seem to be able to move on from this idea of embracing an emotion like mourning.

I’m an emotional person, always have been. My poor husband had no idea the roller coaster he was getting on when we got married. I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life, but I also experience extremes in other emotions. If I’m excited about something I’m really excited. Whether it’s love, hate, fear, worry, joy, surprise… I embrace it to the fullest extent of the emotion.

I’ve come to realize that I can handle emotion. Even if it’s sadness or anxiety. What I can’t handle is a void of emotion. Apathy.

Apathy (noun)- 1. Lack of enthusiasm or energy, lack of interest in anything, or the absence of any wish to do anything. 2. Emotional emptiness, inability to feel normal or passionate human feelings or to respond emotionally

Ever been there? Is there anything worse than feeling apathy? Jennifer and I have often said that we’d rather feel anything, even pain or sadness, than to feel nothing at all. For two girls who live their lives fully engaged in the emotion of the moment apathy is paralyzing. And isn’t that the point? For Satan to stop us in our tracks?

In digging into God’s word I’m finding that He welcomes emotion. God can handle our joy, anxiety, mourning, fear, even anger. But what about when we don’t feel anything? What then.

Obviously God is big enough and merciful enough to be able to handle our apathy. The problem is He is responsive to us. And when we shut Him out… He stands outside the door and waits.

When I am happy I rejoice.

When I am fearful I hold on to Jesus.

When I am angry I unload on God.

When I am anxious I seek His peace.

When I am depressed I cry to Him.

When I am confused I look for His direction.

When I am apathetic I sit and do nothing, completely disengaged from God and the world around me.

Apathy is a defense mechanism. Usually birthed out of sheer exhaustion from trying to deal with circumstances that are difficult or out of control. Apathy kicks in when we reach the end of our rope and just can’t take one more… anything. So we throw in the towel. Pull back. Shut down. Shut out. Quit caring. Hide.

But God doesn’t want us to hide. He wants us to live in the light. To live in His presence. To live with our hearts open to Him, not devoid of emotion.

Today you may be apathetic. Maybe things have just been too hard for too long. I understand. Really I do. But girls, we can’t stay here. As women we were created to reflect the many emotions of our creative God, not to live in emotional emptiness. The good news is… there is HOPE! God promises to give us a new heart! To awaken the passion we once knew. We only need to cry out to Him! He will be quick to answer!

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;

I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

Father God, wake us up from our apathy! Wake us up from our emotional emptiness. Fill our hearts once again with your spirit. Help us not to hide from you when things get hard, but to run to you and allow you to hide us under the shadow of your wing. Help us as women to express the joy and wonder of our emotions in ways that reflect your goodness and your glory. We are desperate for you, Lord. Without you this world is unbearable and we are crushed under the weight of it. Be our source, our strength, our hiding place. We rest in you. Amen.