Monday, 2 September 2013

A City Without a Wall

I've had walls on my mind quite a lot recently. It seems rather an odd thing to think about doesn’t it?  There’s been a story of a wall and city, with another about a war in which a city was conquered. These have formed a theme that has continued for a few months now through story after story.  It started with the story of the destruction of the walls of Jericho when God gave this fortified city to the people of Israel. Later I read about the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, then the rebuilding of the wall by Nehemiah, then much later, the decimation of the city and wall of Jerusalem by conquering Rome in AD 70. 

One of our family Bible memory verses I am teaching my children is "Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall." Prov 25:28 (CEV). While this verse is on our wall for my boys to learn, it’s also written out in bold marker in our kitchen to remind me that I frequently loose my self-control, whether it's through anger, chocolates, distractions or saying yes to too many things. At that point I become a city without a wall. I expose my vulnerability, making myself an easy target.

Self-control is not a swear word!  It's not easy, but it is a blessing rather than a curse (I really need to keep telling myself that). I'm sure we can all think of personal examples. Talking to parents of 2 year olds, familiar words ring out, not just from them I suspect, but from all over parent-dom, "I never had an anger problem until I had children".  It's true, the little treasures know how to press your buttons at an early age, that’s for sure.  When buttons get pushed, faces flush with anger, voices rise.  Self-control wanes then vanishes.  

"Love suffers long and is not provoked ... bears all things ... endures all things." 1 Cor 13:4-7(NKJV) These verses speak very wisely and powerfully to any parent of a 2 year old! Children are a huge blessing from God. They bring joy and laughter, yet they also make us suffer long sleepless nights. I could have sworn I heard an amen somewhere in the distance!! Children provoke. They do know how to get to us, so contributing towards our lack of self control. It's amazing what we endure as a result of our children. We sometimes feel like life is endurance of the frustrating kind.  But that is interpreting these verses without Love. Some days we can wallow in the suffering, provocation, frustration and endurance of parenting, but it is only when we chose obedience to the Spirit of God that we chose love.  Our children's provocation means we don't have to respond inappropriately. We can choose to bear all things and endure all things, because we choose to be obedient to Him and His call to love.
 "Every moment, God gives us opportunities to live for Him.  What happens when we get upset and lose our patience? We lose the blessing of staying in a place of love." Heidi Baker.
 Self-control is not limited to parenting. We need it in our relationships, at our work place, while eating, in our conversations and thought life, even how much time we give to Facebook/Twitter.  We need self-control for many things, if not all things.

Self-control is a part of our defence that keeps us safe.  We are powerless unless we use God’s power. This power is not just restricted to self-control. There are many other areas where our defences may be down including such areas as pride, comparing, hate, addictions, sexual immorality, bitterness, doubt, judging, anything and everything that has a hold on us. When we give into temptation and allow ourselves to be defeated in those areas, we leave our city gates wide open and ripe for invasion. It's easy to want to try to fight temptation, to try to do better, to want to do better, but without the power of the Holy Spirit it's all effort and no break-through.

When we invite Jesus to be our Saviour, He gives us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. We are His temple, He is our security and protection.  He is our wall.  If we would only give him jurisdiction and power to defend us, instead of thinking we can protect ourselves, we would live in victory with a capital V.

Romans 8:37-39 gives us our battle cry "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the presence nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." He who loves that much and that permanently, is our solid defence. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are our wall, our protection, our defence in all things.

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