Tear Down That Wall
August 6, 2021
We live in a hungry-deer zone. They munch everything from flowers to vegetables. Of course they have favorites—lilies, sedum and tomato plants among them. So when we saw the tips of our tomato plant munched off, my husband erected a barrier.
He first put a heavy-wire support around the young plants and lined it with fine wire netting. When the deer continued to munch off the stalk tops, Bill put up four high posts and wrapped the entire plant with chicken wire. Even the top.
Several weeks later we glimpsed the first show of yellow and knew it was time to start harvesting our sweet little grape tomatoes. The only thing was—we couldn't. Bill had protected the plants so well, we couldn't reach the tomatoes ourselves. The barriers had to come down, of course. Who knows if we or the deer will be eating tomatoes?
That experience reminds me that sometimes, like my tomato plants, we have potential inside us, but we wrap our protection so tightly around us that our potential can't get out.
For instance, perhaps we're asked to teach children in Sunday school. But we ponder: What if we have to get up earlier to ready our classroom? What if we can't maintain discipline. What if . . . ? We protect our territory, ourselves, so tightly that our gift of teaching stays locked away.
Perhaps we're asked to offer a story of our faith at a small group gathering. But what if we blank out? What if the women don't laugh at our jokes? What if . . .? Our perfectionism fences in a story that might be a real encouragement to others.
Perhaps volunteers are needed to prepare communion elements. But what if it means gathering supplies and arriving at church earlier than usual? What if we spill grape juice on the white altar cloths? What if . . . ? Our worries fence in what might be a blessed way to serve.
Pride, worries, perfectionism, past failures. Any one of them might prevent us from enjoying the blessings of God we might pass on to others.
So how do we tear down our fences?
Modify your expectations. You need not be perfect to perform a task. Who is? If that were a requirement, few, if any, would volunteer. Days in the classroom will not always look like a scene from a movie. Unless it's a horror film.
Fortify yourself for the task. Read God's Word and let the Spirit speak to you, give you the confidence you need. With the God's help, you and His Spirit can get the job done.
Identify your gifts, talents and skills. Take a spiritual gift survey. Ask yourself, what do you enjoy doing? Are you a people person or do you prefer to work with your hands? Do you enjoy working with kids? Or adults? Ask people who know you what gifts they see in you.
Edify others. Blessings are not meant to be hoarded. If God puts something to do on your heart, do it. Every now and then I send a note to missionaries telling them how much I appreciate their ministry. I hope my small act blesses their hearts. I know it blesses mine. Passing on blessings blesses the giver as much as the receiver.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will all boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV).
Wrap Up: So tear down those fences, which are really "defenses." Don't consider opportunities as intrusions, something you must "defend" yourself against. Consider them opportunities to advance in your Christian walk. As Ronald Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall," I say, "(insert your name), tear down that fence."