As kids if we were lucky, many of us were taken to Sunday school. There we learned all the “big” stories in the Bible. We learned about Adam and Eve and the first sin. We learned about Noah and Moses. We heard all about Joseph and his brothers and a coat of many colors. Some of the stories even came with songs...like the story about Jericho. You remember, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumbling down. When you think about it, this story is kind of crazy. The Israelites marched around the city once every day for 6 days and on the seventh, they marched around the city seven times, blew their rams horns, shouted...and the walls fell down. God wanted His people to see how mighty, sovereign and powerful He was. Because the Israelites were on the verge of entering the promised land and God wanted them to know He would fight for them. You can read the story in the Book of Joshua, chapter six.
No doubt the idea of moving into the promised land was daunting for the Israelites. It is reasonable to think they were worried, nervous or maybe just plain scared.
So, God moved among them. We are living behind walls today. Walls of worry, fear, loneliness, hurt, anger, isolation. Sometimes those walls imprison us and other times we use them to hide behind. Everything that is happening in our world today is daunting too. And now, schools are closing yet again, and kids will be going to school online whether they want to or not. Another wall built.But our God is in the demolition business. His specialty is tearing down walls. And Jericho is not the only place He has been busy. As a high school exchange student, I spent time in West Berlin. I was there while the wall was still standing...the wall they had separated families and friends almost overnight. I got close enough to touch it though there was a guard tower close enough in the other side to make me nervous. The day that wall came a tumbling down was a glorious day for the city of Berlin and the German people. God was there too.
When we are walled in by fear...and there is a lot of fear these days...we only need to turn to the Lord. He is WAY bigger than any fear we might have. The psalmist writes in 34:4-5, “I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.” When we go to the Lord with our walls of fear, he will take our fears, break down the walls and transform our lives. The only fear we should have is the fear of the Lord. Not terror, but awe and wonder at who God is and what God has done.
Others of us face walls of worry. What about jobs and health and kids in school. There is plenty to worry about these days as well. But I am reminded of what Jesus said to us about worry. Matthew 6:27-28. ”And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to their span of life? And why are you worrying about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” The only thing worrying does is give us ulcers, turn our hair grey and make us miserable. I know some who subscribe to the theory that the harder they worry the less likely bad things will happen. But instead of worrying until we have gone crazy perhaps, we might just turn our worries over to God and let Him carry that load.
We can easily be trapped behind walls of anger. Because of our challenges this year, many are weary. And when we are weary, we have less energy to fend off all these emotions. The psalmist reminds us “Do not give in to anger; it only leads to trouble.” Psalm 37:8. It is easy to let anger get the best of us and when that happens, we often make poor decisions. If we find ourselves behind walls of anger, it is best to walk away for a bit. Maybe we want to talk things over with a trusted friend. Then after we are no longer angry, we can deal with the situation at hand. And the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us “Keep your temper under control; it is foolish to harbor a grudge.” Ecclesiastes 7:9. When we hold grudges and are angry with someone, it is often we who get hurt the most. Someone once said hating someone who has wronged us is like we drink poison and wait for them to die.
Sometimes it feels like the walls build themselves. Other times we build them ourselves...brick by brick. Whatever walls you face today, know that our God will help you demolish them if you ask. We are already isolated by walls, doors, windows and other barriers. We don't need any more to keep us hidden from the world. God wants us to interact with one another, even if we can't sit in the same room. We continue to pray for an end to the virus, the hate and the division that have made this year such a challenge. Please join me in those prayers as we wait for the walls to come a tumbling down.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W