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Sabbath Evenings – The Surmountable Wall

Imagine walking on a path alongside a stone wall and spotting a scrap of folded paper stuffed between the cracks. Stopping to see what it is, you carefully unfold the weathered piece and discover a note with the following words:

“Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! You know I need someone. Help! When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now these days are gone I’m not so self assured, now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors. Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you being ’round. Help me get my feet back on the ground. Won’t you please, please help me? And now my life has changed in oh so many ways, my independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then I feel so insecure, I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.”

You feel as though you have read these words before, but shrug it off, put the note in your pocket and keep walking. [Remember, we’re just imagining here – work with me!] I counted seven times that the word “help” is used—and this doesn’t even include the rest of this infamous song by the Beatle’s: Help, I Need Somebody.

Despite what may now seem to the reader to be a cornball beginning takes shape when thinking beyond these lyrics to real life. People write these kinds of notes—pleas for help— everyday, sometimes several times a day, but we may never know it.  Never recognize it. This plea for help, like the lyrics above, can rarely be heard, let alone noticed when standing face to face.  It’s a private pain.

A friend recently revealed to me that she believes she lives behind an imaginary wall—more castle like complete with an inner and outer wall and a moat! She confessed that it was a fortress of her own making—built over many years. This was painful for her to talk about. For the first time she was giving another person a peek into a part of her heart that she didn’t want anyone else to see or know about. She felt lonely and helpless yet desired to be free of all that hard and cold masonry she had lived behind for so long.

People hiding behind walls makes sense to me. For one, walls are erected to protect ones heart from further pain and hurt. But the type of wall my friend was talking about was the wall of “doing” for everyone else. When it came time for her to ask for help with her own needs, she would default to depending solely on herself. She admitted she was a people-pleaser—someone committed to bolstering up others needs even at the expense of her own. The inordinate investment to please others over the years was exhausting. Her fortress had become more like a prison, and yet she was the jailer that kept herself there. Tears flowed. She said, “When others ask ‘Would you help me, please,’ I always find a way to say yes. There was no space left for my God, my marriage and family, or me. But I would not dare think of asking for help for myself less people think I am weak and needy and not a very good Christian. I don’t even want to ask God for help! This is where I live—it’s the wall I hide behind.” She was in a wretched and lonely place and she knew it. My friend was ready to be released.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways, my independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then I feel so insecure, I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.

She desired to know dependence on God and a healthy dependence on people—to risk vulnerability. From my view, I was thrilled for her – she had no idea the divine freedom she was about to experience. Enter the Psalmist, King David.

Help, LORD (Ps. 12.21), come quickly to help me (Ps. 22.19), O LORD, be my help (Ps. 30.10), Come quickly to help me (Ps. 38.22), O LORD, come quickly to help me (Ps. 40.13). And this is only a meager sampling! David gets it. Here is someone who was a strong leader, yet confesses to his own weakness and need for  God. This is such a beautiful part of him. To know ones utter poverty and need is a place of scary freedom. For my friend it was terrifying to let go of the role she had played since adolescence . . .

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now these days are gone I’m not so self assured, now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.

—she had been walled up for so long. But the scripture’s invitations were irresistible and she could no longer refuse Jesus’ call to her: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt. 11.28-30)

In Whistling in the Dark, Frederick Buechner, writes

Fortunately there are two words that offer a way out, and they’re simply these: Help me. It’s not always easy to say them—you have your pride after all, and you’re not sure there’s anybody you trust enough to say them to—but they’re always worth saying . . . Help me. They open a door through the walls, that’s all. At least hope is possible again. At least you’re no longer alone. ( p. 66)

My friend became more aware of her helplessness and her need for God’s help. It was exciting to hear how she was learning to say “Help Me.” She admitted to the awkward feelings and how long it took for her to be comfortable with asking for help and saying “no.” The Lord Jesus was helping her use her gift for helping and serving in a way that didn’t deny her own need for help when she needed it. More space was created for those she loved, and she was better able to care for herself. Her love for God was enlarged. Practicing trust was daily. When I asked her about her wall? She pulled out her Bible, turned to the Psalms and read :

For by You I can run against a troop,

By my God I can leap over a wall.

Psalm 18.29

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Categories: Sabbath Evenings
  1. March 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Have you read the book titled “The Wall”? It’s a parable, written & illustrated by Gloria Jan Evans. I found a copy of it years ago through a Christian Bookstore. The wall is built one stone at a time by a human throughout her life from the discouragements & difficulties of life, until the wall is so high the builder is unable to see over or around it. The builder is now “safe” from all fears and anxieties from the outside world, but there is a void of human contact or communication. One day a flower flies over the wall that changes the builder’s life. Help comes to the human from an unexpected source – The Blessed Presence – which begins to help the human dismantle the wall one stone at a time. Finally the wall is down and the human can interact with outside humans again. The human “goes forth” to other walls, sharing the LOVE, sometimes “just writing beside the wall”, sometimes tossing a flower, sometimes, grasping a hand”. . . interacting with humankind in love and peace – the Family of God!

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