Monday, September 24, 2007

Building a wall

When I write a post, I think I know how it will flow into the next post and how the story will progress, until you start leaving comments that is. A most interesting thing beings to happen, God moves in my heart and my mind begins to wrap around all the comments and a new story emerges, taking on a life of its own. Such is this post.

My last question was about “unguarded strength”, if such a thing existed and if it did whether it was more dangerous than guarded weakness. My daughter, who is usually the tactful member of the family, though about it and said, “while it’s not wrong to recognize that you have some areas that are stronger or weaker than the others, I think that if “guarded strength” means you think you don’t have to guard that area too, you’ve got a pride issue”. Pretty strong statement from a 23 year old, but in total agreement with Gal 6:1, “you who are spiritual…..each look to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

Next came Ted’s statement, “anything unguarded is in danger”, and Andrew’s scripture: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). And then Ted again, talking about staying focused on the work at hand rather than the problem, followed by Llama Mama reminding us that that we did need, in fact, to determine what the root problem was that knocked all the walls down to start with. Taken together, these statements seemed to form a familiar pattern, teasingly taunting my memory.

Then I thought of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem after the exile. The walls were the primary protection for the city and the people that lived inside, but at this point, the city was deserted and the strong protective walls were piles of rubble. The beautiful gates that allowed the right people into the holy city and kept the bad guys out were burned and useless.

You just have to love Nehemiah’s response when the bad guy requests a meeting with him on a far away plain as a way to distract him from his project, (6:3) “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And so, the building of the walls continues until they are restored. However, it continues in a very specific way. (4:17,18) “Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built.” When the wall was finally finished and the enemies heard about it, “they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” (6:16)

And so it has been with my life; the work has been accomplished with the help of our God. My walls never were strong or protective and they certainly had no beautiful gates. There was just of rubble to stumble over and gates that worked the wrong way, letting in the bad and keeping out the good. A little over 27 years ago, a gracious God began to rebuild the walls, complete with new gates. But wall building takes a long time and must proceed in segments. As with Nehemiah, the enemy came to mock, discourage, frightens and shame me by reminding me of the rubble that remained, blinding my eyes many times to the newly and beautifully build walls, and the cleared piles of rubble. But because He is faithful and isn’t distracted from the task, the building proceeded. He provided others to work along side me as we rebuild. He provided blueprints and a plan. I was diligent and build with one hand as I guarded with the other, sword firmly strapped to my side. And then one day, it was done. Then one day, the walls were rebuilt and the gates actually began to work in the right way!

But even the best wall needs maintenance; why ever would we think that maintenance should be done in any other fashion that building was - with a weapon in one hand, a sword firmly girded at your side. I don’t think I went to the “prideful place” of thinking that I had no need to guard those rebuild walls. I wasn’t even particularly slack on my maintenance, I just didn’t realize that there was an unnoticed vine, slowly growing from seed left over from way back when, causing an integrity issue in one section of the wall. And this summer, that vine caught me unaware, tripped me up and knocked me flat on my behind. But God was gracious and the wall was not breached, but it was touch and go for a while and I'm still checking out the bruises. The discouragement of the enemy was intense, much like what Nehemiah faced after he finished the wall. (6:19) “many letter were sent to frighten me”.

So, where will this story go now - perhaps to forgotten seeds, trailing vines, undiscovered roots – things mentioned by clc, esi and bmm; or perhaps to the lovely party we missed at Martin’s - I guess I’ll know when you tell me.


Llama Momma said...

I love your thoughts here, and the image of the wall. Now, I'm going to respond to your comment on MY blog: sleep.

Here's the thing. I find that when I let myself get too busy and I neglect basic self-care -- proper sleep and good nutrition -- things tend to fall apart. Now, sometimes I have no choice -- the kids are sick and I need to care for them or whatever -- but I know myself and I know that I need to go back to basics during these times because I am very vulnerable to temptation. These are the times I need to call on a friend and confess my weakness and allow them to hold me up (and hold me accountable).

Does that make sense?

I don't know what your specific issue is, and I don't need to know in order to pray for you. It probably goes without saying that confiding with a good friend about the specifics would be a good idea.

Blessings to you today.

Even So... said...

Sword and Trowel - must be done individually and within the context of community...

Entering in to God's rest isn't entering into relaxation, but into diligent patience...

BTW Nehemiah's wall went up pretty fast...may God grant you mercy as you endeavor to carry the Sword and Trowel will skill and strength, and then grace as you "guard the keep"...

Craver Vii said...

You think about how to connect the stories together? Ugh, too much work. The comment about the sword and trowel is important: it must be done individually AND within the context of community.

p.s. Sorry for the long silence, Sis.

Every Square Inch said...

I look forward to the next turn of the story...wherever it may go.

Grace to you

Ted M. Gossard said...

I meant "I crossed a major barrier".

When will I ever learn to proofread?!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, Great words here, and great comments, too.

As for myself I just want to keep growing in regard to my own struggle. I think he crossed a major hurdle today, and seem to be growing (I dont' want to say what it is, lest I discourage anyone who is wrestling with another issue)in it. But I take nothing for granted.

And I've found it helps in that at least three people know the specifics of it, three godly people I can trust. And as well, it is an ongoing daily matter, though hopefully will recede more and more into its proper place in the picture, with Jesus and through him the triune God, in the center.

Blessings on you, sister!

Martin Stickland said...

She says: "When I write a post, I think I know how it will flow into the next post and how the story will progress, until you start leaving comments that is"

I says: I saw an old lady of 103 dressed in a pink tutu with green rubber boots riding a bike that only had one wheel. She was smoking a pipe whilst drinking a pint of beer singing "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" and because her one wheel was buckled she went up and down as she rode along our road and then she finished up riding in to the sea where a passing Russian fishing boat which was full if Chinese sailors because the Russian were on their holidays rescued her and made her in to the ships cook because they like her jam roly poly pudding and custard.

Is this any good to help you with your next post??

Craver Vii said...

Hey, I don't have your email address. Would you zip that over to me? Mine is on my profile.

Mike said...

God will always protect us when we trust him. But I think He wants to make us strong in ourselves too, if that makes sense.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Dear LM - the email address should be to you now - and I have definitely been working on sleep. You are right; a key issue for me is always balance!

ES - sword and trowel - I love the imagery! And you’re right, community, especially the right kind is absolutely essential. I think that Gal 6:2 expresses it best in the context of bearing one another’s burdens. I do wonder, as Nehemiah’s wall went up fast, if the initial “wall” goes up immediately at the point of salvation and the remolding, rebuilding and maintenance aspects are the “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? Or perhaps, since it is just an analogy, it breaks down with reference to the actual speed of building. Your prayers and counsel are always much appreciated.

Craver, welcome back. I’ve missed you bro. It’s good to have you as part of my community.

ESI – thank you for your continued support. It’s always encouraging to know you’re reading!

Ted – you make me laugh – I write comments in Word, do grammar and spell check if they are longer than 2 sentences – mostly because even when I proof read I invariably miss something and I certainly don’t spell well! I agree with the “not naming”. Certainly it could discourage – but also could lead to comparison, which is not helpful either. However, I have a different intent, which I hope will become evident within the next post or two as I propose my hypothesis for all of “addiction”.

Martin, you are helpful always as your sense of humor makes me laugh and brings joy to my day – both on your own blog and in your comments here. Besides, it is an encouragement that you actually read that last post to get to the last sentence, where your name was listed!

Mike – welcome to the conversation. I don’t remember seeing you here before and I don’t see a profile on your blog so I don’t recognize you. I’m not quite sure exactly what you’re getting at with your comment so I would be grateful if you would elaborate. I agree. God always protects us if we are trusting in Him, however I think His idea of protection might look quite different that what we humanly think that protection might look like. For example, sometimes, I think he lets us fall flat on our behinds because in the end (pun not intended), that is what brings Him the most glory and is the most useful in conforming us to the image of Christ. If you’ll look back aways in the posts you’ll see a post about a Mack truck that He used in protecting me from myself – certainly wouldn’t have been my choice but in hindsight, I can certainly see His hand of protection in it. “Strong in ourselves”, perhaps in terms of knowing how totally dependent on Him we are for any point of goodness? (Rom 7:18 – in my flesh, no good thing dwells) So, please elaborate – I will look forward to “hearing” what you are getting at.

To all: yes, I have more than one “accountability partners” who, over the years, have been quite adept at busting me before I ever even knew I needed to be sometimes. They are greatly beloved and heeded.

Mike said...

Hi Susan. Sorry... I do agree with everything you've said. I love Nehemiah. All I was getting at was that God would have us stand up on our own two feet, taking nothing away from dependence on Him. We are like children, learning to walk, learning to do the right thing when it hurts. Having a strong will to me is very important. I think these are 'good things' in ourselves and not the 'sinful nature' that Paul was referring to.

Llama Momma said...

Susan -- yes, I got it. Did you get my note?

inspired said...

it's Kool ;]

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on addiction. This can end up being a help for many of your readers, me included.

L.L. Barkat said...

I know that the wall metaphor can be an alienating one, in our culture. But I love the way it was used biblically. The protection, the safety, so life could prevail within the bounds.