4He said to him, “Run and tell this young man: Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the number of people and livestock in it.” 5The declaration of the Lord: “I will be a wall of fire around it, and I will be the glory within it.”
-Zechariah 2:4-5, HCSB
Just as John Piper wrote in his blog this very morning, sometimes – many times – “I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.”
Today, I woke up feeling fragile. Days of celebrating Jesus and my birthday and my book have left me spent, yet here we are with another celebration before us….I look at this day, and I think, “Why did I plan to celebrate with them last? What was I thinking? Why didn’t we celebrate a week ago when I still had some reserves from which to draw? Jesus, help me.”
I texted Mom, asking for prayer. Then I clicked on the link to John Piper’s blog, and Abba smiled on me with radiant love. In Zechariah 2, Zechariah recounts a vision of a man measuring Jerusalem to determine how big the City of God is, but an angel stops him and tells him that the city and its surrounding villages will have no walls because the population is so great. Jerusalem will be physically vulnerable, because she is so full of life. But the Lord Himself will be the wall surrounding the city, and not only will He protect His beloved, He will also dwell with His people, bringing His glory to them.
My life cannot have walls around it. Constructing walls to keep people out would restrict my life to my detriment. There is simply too much life for Abba to permit me to pile brick upon brick, barricading myself so that I can live in a quiet hovel of solitude. Any wall that I construct would be poorly built anyway. I am no builder or craftsman. Thus, I am vulnerable. Fragile, as Piper says. I am exposed to the masses of people who pass in and out of my life, some of whom have very little other than ill will to offer. I am exposed to “livestock” – in the form of pets, I presume – that irritate me because, my corn, have I not already done enough for everyone else in the house and now he wants something from me, too (Selfishness thrives).
But, the God Most High who loves me does not leave me any more vulnerable than He left His beloved city. He is “a wall of fire” around me – an impenetrable shield of protection that consumes any that would seek to treat me in a way that He has not allowed. Will I suffer? The utter lack of peace and unity in modern Jerusalem attest to the fact that, yes, I will still suffer. Abba’s protection does not promise a life of ease, comfort, or prosperity. Abba’s protection promises that He will not permit anything or anyone to touch me unless He has permitted it to happen. Such as Nathan’s death. Should babies die in the womb? No! There is something inherently wrong with death and most especially with the death of a child, but Abba allowed that difficulty to pass through the gates of His fiery wall, because He knew the beauty that would come from Nathan’s short, profound life here on earth. So, yes, He protects me from much harm and turmoil, though He does permit pain to reach me for His redemptive purposes.
Abba’s fiery wall also keeps me in my proper place. He protects me from my own eagerness to run out into the hill country when I am not told to go, because I see the flames of His wall and I do not want to pass through His discipline yet again. I would rather stay put and wait for Him to lead me through the gate into the wilderness with His Spirit going before me as my Guide, going beside me as my Friend, and going beyond me as my Rearguard.
The joyous part? That Yahweh not only promises His protection, but also the immense pleasure of His presence. “…and I will be the glory within it,” He says. Abba will not only protect me from others and from myself, He will also dwell with me in His city. He will be my glory! Have you ever experienced Abba’s glory? I haven’t the words to describe it! The language of man cannot contain the magnificence of Abba, but this I know: once you have been swept up in His glory, you want nothing else for a good long while. You are wholly consumed by want of Him.
A half hour ago, I felt fragile. My heart and mind lingered on the edge of weeping at the mere thought of enduring the people entering my city, but I know now that the One who loves me most is a fiery wall and the joyous glory of my life. I can rest in His protective embrace. I can fall back into His arms and feel His heart beat, His chest rise and fall with the Breath of Life. I can feel His chin rest on the crown of my head and listen to Him whisper Truth. You are Mine, Beloved. You are Mine. Secure and wholly loved, no matter what comes. No matter what anyone thinks or doesn’t think. No matter who irritates you or pesters you or cuts you to the quick. You are Mine. Abide here with Me. You are safe, because I have you, Beloved, and I’m not letting go.