“They laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. “*
Not exactly the stuff of which a “life verse” or a New Year’s Resolution is made,
But five times in Nehemiah’s counter-clockwise tour of the wall we are confronted:
What’s the point of a walled city if the gates are not secure?
Shore them up! Every beam; every door; every bolt; every bar,
Not just for the glory of Old Jerusalem, but for the glory of God,
Who is, after all, the Center, the focus of Nehemiah’s renovation.
“Where there is no center, there is no circumference,”**
And how we need a circumference–
Not to hem us in, suffocation-style,
But to correct our warped geometry,
To free us up,
To establish the playing field:
“Here is the goal.”
“This is my responsibility.”
“Someone else will cover this area.”
After all, didn’t original sin sprout from the refusal of a boundary?
What if, instead of an outreached hand to harvest death,
Eve’s response had been,
“Let me not be like unto God. Let me be instead what I was created to be.
Let me be a woman.”***
Today, and everyday, let me secure the gates.
All day long we choose
With eyes, ears, lips, fingers —
Trivial pursuits, mindless entertainment,
The gates wide-open to the corrosion of our souls.
Lay the beams, tighten the bolts and bars.
Guard your heart and live free.
* Nehemah 3:3, 6, 13-15
**Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder
*** Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman
For further study, read Nehemiah 3 in a sitting. It may be second only to “the begats” in its repetitive monotony, but if your Bible has a map of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem, follow it around the wall as you read. It really does help!