Tag Archives: Proverbs 21:31

Rise Up, My Love (277): What’s in a Wall?

Song of Solomon 8:9. “If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.” Let’s start with just the first thought: “If she be a wall…” What does it mean to be a wall? In the next verse, the bride declares that she herself is a “wall” with “towers,” which won her a place of favor in her husband’s eyes, so we can assume the couple felt that being a wall was a good thing. So, what is a wall, literally and metaphorically?

Literally, a wall is a structure that gives definition; it sets boundaries and limits; it protects. I’ve read that in ancient times, building a wall was the first step toward building a city, since walls were necessary for protection against wild beasts and foreign invaders. It was only after the walls came crashing down that the Israelites were able to successfully conquer Jericho (Joshua 6:5). When King Sennacherib led the Assyrians in a campaign against Israel, King Hezekiah immediately began his defense by building up the walls of Jerusalem: “He strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without”(2 Chronicles 32:5). When Nehemiah was called to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem, the first thing he did was rebuild the wall around the city (Nehemiah 12:27-32).

Metaphorically, a wall was used as a symbol of strength and security. David and his men were described as a protective “wall unto us both by night and day” while Nabal’s shepherds were out in the wild caring for their flocks (I Samuel 25:16). In Zachariah 2:5, the Lord promises that He will be “a wall of fire round about” Jerusalem to protect her from harm. In Proverbs 18:11 we are warned that a rich man will often fail to trust in the Lord for his help and mistakenly consider wealth as “his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”

Truly, are we any different today? How many of us are tempted to feel secure if we have stable jobs and a good income? I know that’s a natural tendency in me, and I have to keep reflecting on the truth that “the horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). Virtually no one lives within a walled city any more, but I’ve seen lots of fence walls. In the vast tracts of tiny, hovel dwellings built on the garbage dumps of Agua Prieta, Mexico, I’ve seen fences around twenty-by-twenty foot compounds made out of bedsprings, trash, and cactus; in China I’ve seen walls with razor rolls on top and chunks of glass embedded in the concrete…all to keep people out.

And here in America, don’t we feel safer within the walls of our own home? I do! One of my dearest friends had a husband who always felt a huge sense of relief every night as he pulled into their driveway, so I gave him a plaque to hang on the wall of their garage right where he parked his car that read: Home Free! Isn’t that the way we feel? (At least, if our home is happy.)

Walls do protect and keep us safe…as long as we’re on the inside. However, if we’re on the outside of a wall trying to get in…well that’s another story! A wall that keeps strangers out makes us feel safe, but a wall that keeps us out can be terribly frustrating. Metaphorically, a wall is something that stops us from going any further. We speak of “hitting the wall” when we can’t go any further because we’re exhausted, being driven “up the wall” when we’re totally frustrated because we can’t reach our goal, and being “off the wall” when we’ve ceased being rational in the pursuit of our goal.

God made Jeremiah like “a fenced brasen wall” to the rebellious Israelites, “and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:20). God told Ezekiel to take an iron pan “and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city,” as a sign to Israel that God would not deliver them in the day of judgment because they refused to repent (Ezekiel 4:3). A wall sets limits. It can either work for us or against us, depending on who we are and what we want.

“If she be a wall…” Although this is the groom speaking of a younger sister, the bride later affirms that she is a wall, so as a spiritual exercise let’s consider these questions for ourselves: What kind of a wall am I? What walls have I erected in my life? Who or what am I keeping in and out of my life? Please ponder these questions right now, and if you happen to be reading with someone else, stop and talk about your thoughts together. Are you strong, straight, true, and able to protect? Are your wall boundaries what you want them to be? Are they effective? (If you know you have boundary problems [definitely a weak area for me], consider reading the New York Times bestseller, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend).

When I was in China, I walked along the top of the Great Wall one rainy day. People bobbed along under rainbow-colored umbrellas, and I could see out across a vast countryside of green and brown. The Great Wall is still one of the man-made wonders of the earth, but it is no longer used as a defensive boundary. Its main use today is as a romantically grand, pleasure walkway where millions of people come for refreshment every year.

What kind of a wall am I? What kind of wall are you? Oh, Lord, may we tear down any walls that we’ve attempted to make out of the trash and broken glass in our lives to keep you or others “at bay.” Help us to be straight, strong, and true to keep sin out of our lives, but not you or those you’ve created. Help us to be like a spiritual Great Wall: a display of your glory, but no longer a barrier to keep others out. May our hearts instead become a place where others may come to be strengthened, renewed, and refreshed. And, Lord, may we always take you as our wall of defense. Please be a wall of fire around us to keep us safely within your heart and will.

A friend of ours, Bob Hardee, sent this light-hearted photo after Alan and I had visited several castles in the U.K. with our two youngest. Truly, our homes are our “castles,” aren’t they? But, the real question is: How do we use the walls we’ve built?!

A Race to the Finish Line

My oldest son’s family (with four boys) are arriving one week from today for Christmas, and this is the room where they usually sleep on the pull-out couches.     What do you think? Am I ready for company? No, I don’t think so either.   😦 We’ve been trying to update our 30-year-old kitchen because our laminate counter tops were worn through and showing spots of white and the drawer hinges had been replaced so many times that the company no longer sells replacement hinges! I realize that Christmas is the wrong time to redo your kitchen, particularly when you’re expecting 24 people to visit, but when we started this project (6 months ago), they said it would take 6-10 weeks. Wrong! But you know, sometimes the only way out is to just keep trekking, so that’s what we decided to do! After all, eating out of the frig off the floor is over-rated! I can totally recommend the guy who’s doing our remodeling. The timing had nothing to do with him (had to wait on the cabinets to arrive, and then the order was incomplete, etc.). Jeff is doing an impeccable job (just for the record).  Unfortunately, he needs foot surgery, so he’s been working long hours to try to get things in shape for us so that I have a functional kitchen for the holidays. The counter tops and new sink will take another month. On top of that, he’s trying to do some extra things that somehow didn’t get into the contract. The lady at the store said, “Oh, he can put in temporary counter tops for you!” but failed to put that in the contract, and of course, I failed to realize that she failed to put that in the contract (along with various other necessary items, such as the strainers for the sink [whatever those are] and the supplies to convert our new range from propane to natural gas)…which Jeff is going to try to do for us (although he’s never done it before), because the company who is supposed to do can’t until after the holidays, and I need a stove!!     So the dust is flying and the living areas are pretty much a disaster area!                            Will Jeff be able to finish before the company arrives?  If so, will I be able to get the house put back together so we can eat at the tables?  (BTW, how in the world did I accumulate so much stuff in just 45 years?) I’m not sure the answer to any of those questions, but I’m praying it works out! Have you noticed that doing things “right” almost always seems to take a lot longer than we think? It generally costs more as well. There are hidden expenses (not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually)…all sorts of things we need that we didn’t know we’d need, not to mention human errors in communicating and planning. Still, God calls us to keep moving forward, doing the best we can and praying for help! I’m believing this is going to work out… somehow, and I hope that if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by life this holiday season, you will also keep looking up and trusting God to see you through!

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31)


Ilsa-Style Winter Blizzards

Tahquamenon Falls in the WinterJanuary has been furious. Since 2016 began, we’ve had a series of Ilsa-style blizzards here in the U.S. Winter Storm Frona took 8 days to cross America, leaving a breathtaking trail of beauty in the Grand Canyon and christening the new year with 28 inches of snow at eastern end of the Great Lakes. On her heels Storm Gorgan raced at breakneck speed 2,000 miles cross country from Washington State to New Jersey in just 2 days, casting her icy spell across 22 states. Frozen for sure! I think Storm Gorgan was appropriately named, because the Gorgan sisters (in Greek mythology) had snakes for hair and turned people into stone simply by staring at them. Arctic from the SkySo, Monday morning, when an Arctic Clipper swooped down into parts of the Dakotas and Montana, causing temperatures to dip down to -20°,  and the National Weather Service posted a storm warning for the possibility of winds gusting to 45mph, visibility at 1/4 mile, and as much as 12″ of drifting, lake-effect snow in our area  Monday night and Tuesday, Alan had me pack up and meet him at a hotel near the hospital.Snowy Lake In fact, predictions were for “treacherous travel” and “occasional whiteouts” for the entire week, and given that Alan had to make it to work every day due to the hospital’s triennial accreditation inspection, we decided to stay until we thought we could make it safely home. Schools were closing down, and stores were full of shoppers stocking up. Our area prepared as best it could, but still there were casualties. My prayer partner for the past 15 years slipped on ice and broke her ankle. The highways were crawling, and even so, there were numerous accidents with roads plugged and traffic backed up. Sadly, one of Alan’s friends was in a multiple car accident where he was not badly injured but one man was killed on Tuesday afternoon. (Selah [Pause].)Happy New YearWhen Alan and I finally ventured back to our home, the snow in our lane was deeper than the bumper of our car, and it took Alan a long time to clear it all out. We were terribly grateful to be safe and sound back in our nest with heat and power still intact. There’s always relief in escaping/surviving tribulation, but there’s a sense of “survival guilt” too, isn’t there? God doesn’t always explain why He does what He does, but He does ask us to believe that He is overseeing this world and intends good to come even from the evil if we will trust him. Will we?

Artic skies“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31)

(I did take all these photographs, but only the two of our lake and swamp are recent.)

Fine Lines by Airline Stewardesses

There have been lots of comings and goings on airplanes to our home of late: Grace and the kids came Thursday, Michael came and went over the weekend, and yesterday I put my baby, Joel, on the plane to Boston. So, in honor of the flurry of flights, here are a list of great lines that were purportedly overheard on airplanes. I’ve included some pictures that were forwarded to me via email as well:

United flight attendant announced, “People, People — we’re not picking out furniture here; find a seat and get in it!
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On landing, the stewardess said, “Please be sure to take all of your belongings.  If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”
– – –Airplane crashes 1“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”
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An airline pilot wrote that, on this particular flight, he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile and give them a Thanks for flying our airline.  He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.  Finally, everyone had gotten off except a little old lady walking with a cane.  She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask a question?”  “Why, no, Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?”  The lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down?”
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As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan Airport, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fellow, WHOA!”
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Another flight attendant’s comment on a less-than-perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”
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Airplane crashes 4On an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, TX on a particularly windy and bumpy day, during the final approach, the captain was really having to fight it.  After an extremely hard landing, the flight attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo.  Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”
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“Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”
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“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.  Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses — except for that gentleman over there.”
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This was heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City.  The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump, and I know what y’all are thinking.  I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault; it wasn’t the pilot’s fault; it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault. It was the asphalt.”
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Airplane crashes 3After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate.  And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
– – –Airplane crashes 2Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today.  And the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of US Airways.”
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Heard on a Southwest Airline flight: “Ladies and Gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing; and, if you can light ’em,  you can smoke ’em.”
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A man boarded a plane with six kids. After they got settled in their seats, a woman sitting across the aisle from him leaned over to him and asked, “Are all of those kids yours?”  He replied, “No.  I work for a condom company. These are customer complaints.” (This last one might not seem funny to you, but after hearing, “Are all of those kids yours?” about a zillion times in my life, with no appropriate response, I have to applaud the man’s wit!)

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31)