Updated May 31, 2018 to include an audio version of the post.
Adapted and expanded from Gloria Jay Evans (used in counseling and prison ministry)
Whoever isolates themself is self-indulgent; they lash out at common sense….Let us not give up meeting together, as some are doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day of Jesus’ return approaching….For Christ’s family does not consist of one member but of many (Proverbs 18:1; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Corinthians 12:14).
A Wall of Isolation
I don’t know when I first began to build the wall. I tried to keep people out of my life by building a boundary to protect me from getting hurt. At first the wall was so small, people didn’t notice and stumbled on it. Others stepped over it and came close to me. This was uncomfortable. So I built the wall higher. Some rested their arms on the wall and talked. Some stayed too long and were not my kind of people. Even when I edged the top with sharp stones, people didn’t stop bothering me. One day, someone vaulted over the wall and stood too close. That really ticked me off.
So I built the wall higher and soon no one could see in or out. No one stopped to talk. Some walked by, not noticing me or my wall. Others stood by sadly and watched me build. I thought they were jealous. My stones were precious to me so I polished them. I no longer saw or heard anyone. “Is anyone there?” I shouted. No answer. It was dark and stinky inside. I stayed there for a long time. Now it was too quiet and too lonely. I heard only whispers of my memories. Someone yelled, “Your wall is ugly!” This offended me; I liked my wall.
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
One day, a flower fell at my feet and I began to cry. I climbed up to see who’d thrown it over, but no one was there. I admired the flower for a long time and could see the folly of my isolation. Tears brought me to my knees and I prayed: “Lord, I am so alone. My wall is too high, too thick, too ugly. Please help me.”
Then Christ broke in; thanks be to God! He shattered my darkness with His holy light, bringing me righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit. The Lord had watched me build my wall, now He awakened me to my foolishness.
Jesus began to teach me my error. Christ gave the stones names: “This one is perfectionism; this one ungodliness; this one judgmentalism. Remove them all.” I’d protest about favorite stones I had saved and cherished for years, but the Lord helped me chop them up. Stones people use to build walls include: jealousy, envy, discontentment, cynicism, un-thankfulness, disillusionment, anger, resentment, nursing hurt feelings, grudge holding, unrealistic expectations, childishness, stubbornness, impatience, irritability, spiritual anxiety and depression, frustration, selfishness, self-importance, and self-centeredness. Sometimes Jesus Himself helped me remove them; other times He sent others to help me. As we knocked away more stones, more of Christ’s pure light flooded in.
One day, a hand reached through a hole in my wall. It was a stranger who said that Jesus had torn down their wall too. I told them how lonely I had felt inside. They said, “Yes, self-pity is deadly; it destroys everything.” When they left, I found my stone of self-pity, wet with my tears. With Jesus’ help, I threw it away.
The Big Stone of Pride
Overwhelmed by all that Christ had done for me, I stood on a stone and began to tell anyone who passed by how great the Lord is. I was shocked that no one seemed to hear. I pleaded with them to stop building their walls, but no one listened. Frustrated, I lay face down on a huge, highly polished stone.
Jesus asked, “Do you know why you are ineffective in telling others about me? Raise your head and see what you are lying upon.” I gasped, seeing my own reflection. The big stone was pride and the Lord helped me cut it up. Christ said, “Now you must go and I will go with you.” I protested, “There is more to work on in my life. I want to stay.”
Saved to Serve Others
Jesus said, “Do you remember the flower brought to you, the hand that you clasped, the stranger who showed you your self-pity?” “Yes”, I sighed. “Then go and do the same out of love for others. For to whom much grace is given, much grace is expected to be shown to others. Wherever you go, I go with you. And when you come back to remove more stones, I will be here for you.” So I went out, helping other people with walls. They were as lonely as I had been.
When I heard sobs behind the walls, I begged the Lord, “Please help them!” When I returned to my wall, Christ was there was there as He promised. He is my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Together we removed my stones of fear, mistrust, and indifference. Christ said, “Now you are understanding my love. Without that, all I tell you is meaningless. Imitate my love and accept people who are different from you.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)
Out of grateful love for Jesus, I began reaching out, encouraging, serving, grasping others’ hands, and praying. I want to become all things to all kinds of people so that by all possible means Christ might use me to save them and build up them up in His love (1 Cor 9:22). I remember St. Augustine’s words:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. (Augustine, 354-430)
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!