Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bars on Windows

I drove past a beautiful home recently. The yard was neatly mowed and edged, the bushes crisply pruned. Flowers of many colors filled the beds and lined the walkway. The paint on the eaves was fresh and bright. By all accounts it was a lovely home. The owners obviously cared for it and kept it tidy. As I took a second look, I noticed another detail. Each of the sparkling clean windows were covered with intricate bars; bars designed to protect whatever was inside. The bars probably made the homeowners feel safe and secure at night knowing that they, and all their possessions, were protected from the outside world. To penetrate and reach them would be nearly impossible. What sweet rest they must get at night.

But then I began to think how those same bars create a prison. How do you get out in case of a fire? How do firefighters get in? If for some reason you need to evacuate your home, how do you flee when the doors and windows are covered with bars? And while the bars may protect from burglars and bad guys, they cannot protect from some of life's other intruders. They serve as no protection from tornado or flood. They do not protect from fire and smoke. They bring the illusion of protecting from fear, but it is only an illusion. In all reality there is still much danger.

I began to think about how we like to do that. We like to put up bars and build walls to protect our hearts. We like to believe that we can block out harm and trouble; to feel as though we have some power to keep ourselves from getting hurt. But each wall we build, each bar we put in place, is an illusion of protection. The walls and the bars do not keep danger out; they lock us in. They separate us from others. They isolate us. They prevent others from reaching us when the fires of life are raging. We think that they are keeping us from dangerous people who mean us harm, and maybe sometimes they do, but they also build prisons of loneliness. Places that others cannot reach us when our lives are burning around us. In the meantime, they do not protect us from the strong winds of trial or the flood waters of pain.

Do you have bars on your heart and walls around your life? The bars that keep others out may become the prison that keeps you in. Tear them down. Life is not safe, with or without the walls. There are some bad people and situations that may harm you. But prisons of loneliness keep you from being helped by the "firefighters" of life--the people who would love to reach out to you and love you. And God, who loves you even more, makes promises to encourage us to trust him and not our own protective devices.  John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Your bars will not protect you from trouble, but there is peace that God take care of you through the troubles--he has overcome the world. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  God has plans for you and they are for good, but you cannot enjoy all the beauty from behind high walls.

My prayer for you is that you do not let the illusion of safety become your prison. I pray you will take down the bars and tear down the walls. Life is beautiful beyond them.

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