The walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates destroyed by fire. Neh. 2:13
This could just as easily read “the walls of Keri were broken down and her gates destroyed by fire”. Or maybe “the walls of ________ were broken down and her gates destroyed by fire”.
There’s something so sad and wrong about broken down walls. Destruction that is brought by an enemy and leaves a city defenseless. When Nehemiah heard about the destruction in Jerusalem his heart was broken:
“So the King asked me ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’ ‘Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’” Neh. 2:2-3
He grieved for his city, for the broken walls and destroyed gates. It’s even worse when it’s not city walls destroyed, but hearts. When wrong is done to us and our hearts are invaded and overtaken by an enemy. When we are left broken and burned. Torn down and destroyed. And our broken hearts grieve and mourn the loss of innocence and security.
Cities with broken walls are vulnerable to attacks. They are unsafe. Unsecure. And so are we when our hearts have been broken. We feel naked and afraid. So we do the only thing we know to do. We rebuild the wall.
Only this time we build not to keep out the enemy, but to keep out everyone. Because no one can be trusted with our heart. No one can be given the opportunity to hurt us again.
We build in isolation, a thick, impenetrable wall that cannot be scaled by God or man. We build walls with no gates, no entry way, no access to our hearts. Walls to shut the world out. Walls to shut our hearts up.
It’s hard work, building an impenetrable wall. Constantly being on guard. Forever afraid of being hurt again. We know the wall we’re building is wrong, but every time we stop for a minute we remember the broken wall, the burned gates, and the pain. We can’t risk letting that happen again. So, we square our shoulders against the world and keep building.
The only problem with building a wall to protect our hearts from being hurt is that it doesn’t work. No wall built by our hands will shield us from the pain and sorrow of this world.
Maybe it’s time to admit that the wall building isn’t working. Maybe it’s time to stop, let go of the brick in your hand and surrender. Maybe it’s time to invite Jesus behind the wall, and let Him hide you under the shadow of His wing. (Psalm 17:8)