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When the Walls Begin to Shake

I never know what I'm doing until it's too late, and I don't know where I am until my walls begin to shake; it always hurts when they come crumbling down.

Personal kingdom building isn't purposeful, but somehow I always manage to find myself surrounded by pretty walls I've built by my own hands. A little kingdom in which I fashionably construct with all sorts of things. Good deeds, right choices, anger, ambition, love, envy, and desire are just some of the materials that I smash and muddle together to form bricks, which I then position neatly into walls around me. I apply layer after layer of understanding like cement, holding it all together as it hardens into resistance.

I don't even know what I've done until my walls begin to shake and my comfort is disturbed. As I set on the task of keeping my walls from falling, I feel accomplished when I conquer the rattles and patch the cracks. The more the walls shake, the more I scurry to resist, thickening the layers and adding new bricks. Empowered by my efforts, I hold these walls up with my own strength and understanding, fortifying their glory with more reasonable cement. On it goes, building and resisting, pausing along the way to admire the work I've done.

When the walls begin to shake again, I realize how easily they could all crumble, and the cycle continues. Desire becomes my drink and potential becomes my bread. I grow full on myself, complacent to the point where bordered walls become the whole world. Disillusionment feels like clarity, and the intoxicating effect of my efforts keeps me addicted, but I'm never truly satisfied. Strangely though, I keep raising my glass to the kingdom I've built, partaking in the poison anyway and settling with its counterfeit version of peace.

It's a place I hate and love all at the same time, a place I can't seem to keep myself from wandering to. Though the journey of rebuild always looks different, its blinding effect remains the same every time.

Its familiarity feels homey and comfortable, but the truth is that it's a cage. It's not the life I was made for; I wasn't built to live for myself.

I was made for more than my desires, more than my potential, and more than myself. I wasn't made for my own kingdom, but God's. A kingdom structured with perfect love, a kingdom of boundless peace, a kingdom rich in mercy and infinite grace, a life of freedom and true abundance.

Heaven on earth. Presence with God.

Why do I wander back when I know the full life outside of these walls I build? Why am I always tempted to resist their fall when true abundance is found through the crumble?

In short, it's because I'm a sinner. On this side of heaven, I will always have a bent towards believing I know best, that more and better save, and that I can manage on my own. That familiarity of self-reliance will always beckon with comfort, especially when life feels uncertain.

And life feels uncertain a lot.

I may not keep myself from wandering, but I can stop resisting the walls from breaking when they begin to shake. Instead of fearing their collapse as a ruin, I can embrace their fall as a saving invitation.

A rescue from God himself, dismantling my self-reliance and calling me into his presence. It might hurt a little when all the bricks finally collapse, but if rescue were painless or easy, I would do it myself.

I can't rescue myself. Believing I can only fuels the kingdom-building effort that keeps me striving.

The truth is, I need Jesus. I need him to shake these walls and wake me up. I need him to break these bricks and set me free from myself, again and again, and again.

So I let the stones crumble as they shake. I let God remind me of his kingdom that I've somehow forgotten. And I stand at the end of myself in a rubbled mess, broken again, but more whole. Because there in the breakage, he somehow turns ash to beauty and covers me with a grace that satisfies every longing, every desire, and every wound. Grace that renews my soul and restores my sight so I can behold his kingdom of true abundance through the unsettled dust still lingering in the air.

And I can see his mercy, his goodness, his faithfulness, and love again. And I know, exposed there in the rubble with my kingdom walls crumbled to ash around me, there is no place I would rather be.

Presence with God.

And I rejoice. I am set free.


Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I'm constrained to be! Let that grace now like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

[Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing]


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