Today’s Reading Jeremiah 48:1 – Lamentations 1:22
Several years ago, my wife and I and our youngest son joined some other colleagues and their families and made the trek to Israel. It was the first time that I had ever been there and it was a great experience. The people and land that I had read about and been taught about since I was a child was right before me. It was at times overwhelming.
Two things struck me immediately as we began to tour the land. The first was just how compact everything was. When I had read the biblical accounts prior, in my head there was an idea that this was a vast land. The distance in my head between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was enormous. What I learned was that geographically that was not the case, however for the story of Jesus they still represent a great distance, the beginning and the end.
The second thing that struck me was the checkpoint system. For those that do not know, there are a series of crossings and checkpoints throughout Israel. These are done for safety and to control and monitor the passing of goods and people, particularly Palestinians, throughout the region. It was a jarring thing for me to see and to witness. Even years later, several of our encounters at checkpoints remain burned into my memory.
Our tour guide, was a wonderful man with a Palestinian heritage. He shared with us the impact of the story of Jesus from his own context in ways that I had never heard it before. He was a brother in Christ. His passion was so evident. Yet, he was forced to leave certain areas of the city by a certain time and had to leave us early several days. It was again a jarring reminder of fences, walls, and barricades.
Today’s readings spoke about the walls of Jerusalem as the army of Babylon surrounded it preparing to invade Jerusalem. I can only imagine the fear of the people trapped inside the walls as they were made aware of the invaders. The tension was probably rising daily. Even reading the passages the feeling of trouble rang from the pages(of my kindle).
See, that is the thing about walls, fences, and barricades. We often set them up to keep people out but they always keep us locked in. We separate ourselves from each other and live in fear of each other and the unknown. The walls, fences, and barriers make prisoners of us all.
It goes without saying that these barriers we create don’t always have to be physical. We try to hide away from others from fear or to protect ourselves or even from shame. We try to keep God at a safe distance from us with these walls at times as well. We struggle to connect with God because being in relationship with God creates change in us. The walls are a response to our fear from that change.
What are you trying to keep out? What are you trying to lock in? Where is God trying to break down your walls?