On Sunday I made my way up to Auckland to speak at a church up there. The topic they had for me was “The Wall.” The Wall is when life stops working for us and God seems very hard to find. We may have good desires and intentions. We may be doing and saying all the right things, praying the right prayers, believing God-given truth but still, life isn’t working for us. What do you do when you hit the wall? Do you turn back and give up on the faith? Do you decide that God isn’t good after all? Or do you press in to what thread of faith you have left, knowing deep down that if you want the life that is truly life there is nowhere else to go?
Why does this happen? Is it God? Is it us? Is it the enemy? The answer may be all three. But it’s clear that when we hit the wall God is after something very specific – the death of our ego. Each one of us has ways in which we try and make life work for us. We may be control freaks, in denial about reality, avoiding responsibility, focused on material success, super-religious people, or cynics who criticise from the sidelines. Whatever it is, however we express our pride and egotism, that’s what God is after. You could call it the death of the poser or the end of the false self.
I expressed myself passively but pride definitely lurked underneath. If I got a chance to show my wisdom and knowledge I seized it. I made knowledge king and character his servant. God needed to reverse that. I hit a wall in my marriage, my work and my faith. My nice-guy persona wasn’t enough to love my wife well in the midst of hardship and heartbreak. God didn’t owe me a good job even though I knew I was meant to be the provider of the family. My faith wasn’t there to be figured and to make me look good as I did so. God needed to do whatever it took to uncover my heart that Christ had made new. He wanted to lead me into a Spirit-led life, grow me into Christlikeness and increase my capacity and willingness to love God and others.
While scaling The Wall I met the Father. While I smelt like pigs I received his embrace. Christ also came for me, put his arm around my shoulder, showed me the way ahead and said “let’s go!” I came to the end of myself and waiting there was a Father’s hug and the love of my older brother. There are still obstacles and ego still rears its head sometimes, but the poser in me is more easily recognised now, and thus, more easily taken to the cross. I can praise God for a marriage rebuilt, work that uses my gifts and brings joy and a faith that is real and true. I can also give thanks for The Wall. It broke me because I needed to be broken and rebuilt. It confronted me with my false pride and misaligned views of God, but as I scaled it new vistas opened up.
May God lead you to your Wall. May he give you courage and perseverance as you scale it. And if you’re on the other side, may he remind you often that he embraced you even as you were at rock bottom and called you his child.