When protection imprisons

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if, somehow, I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own (Philippians 3.10-12)

At morning’s service end, at the door I stood,
my customary place, sharing parting words.

Approaching, smiling, said she, “That sermon spoke to me. You are wise.”
Immediately, my viscera stirring, I balked, stammering:
Ah, thank you…so kind of you…but, umno…that’s not so.”

(Manifold the times, thus I’ve replied to a courteously-intended compliment.)

Equally immediately, I realized my polite protest,
truly, was my defense against
my abiding sense, more, my fearful awareness
that I possessed nothing of the quality
she professed to have beheld in me.

Yet more…most importantly,
in shielding myself
from having to confess, woefully afresh,
to myself
that wisdom is beyond my reach,
I had rejected, however civil my demurral,
both her word of her truth to me and her.

I heard the voice of the Spirit,
speaking then and throughout these past days,
leaving me not alone, whether waking or sleeping,
e’en in the repose of my dreaming,
brick wall

“Paul, step out from behind your wall of self-protection,
for ‘tis only your self-imposed prison, one without lock or key
in which you lodge…live,
risking little, remaining less than you could be,
for only through your eyes do you…can you see you;
your vision ever-clouded by the shadow of your humanity.

“Your wall, ‘tis not a womb from which new-birth can come
that you may see and be yourself as God sees and is,
but a tomb in which God’s new-creation dies unborn.

“Step out! Come out!
Listen anew to the One Who alway calls,
‘Take up your cross and follow Me’,
for He, in His dying and rising,
and in your believing,
already hath made you His own.”


A Confessional Endnote: At the midpoint of my seventh decade of living, I would like to think, to believe that I need not the Spirit to remind me that personal defense mechanisms can become dungeons. Yet, as this experience equally reminds me, old habits die hard deaths.

3 thoughts on “When protection imprisons

  1. Paul,

    When I first read this title yesterday I made an assumption that this post was about the children who had been detained supposedly for their protection by being imprisoned by our government.

    But as soon as I started reading it this morning, I figured out where it was going. I’ve been stirred by more of your sermons than I can count!! My truth about you is that you are absolutely wise…and even though I haven’t heard a “live” sermon from you in a while I can be stirred by and find direction from your written words.

    I hope you continue to “step out and come out” from behind that wall. I’ve been coming out from the self imposed prison I lived in for a while after Tim’s death afraid to face the world alone. Now as I approach the 2nd anniversary of his death… I can step out and do the work God intends for me to do and embrace the world knowing that I’m stronger and maybe even more wise… and YOU, through lots of your words in your sermons, have helped me with that. And I’m grateful… and I understand exactly what the woman said and felt as she left church that Sunday. Amen!!

    Much love!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loretta, we are well-attuned to each other, for, when I posted this piece, I thought about the title and that it might/could be read as a prelude to my view on the separation and detention of immigrant parents and children. For that reason, it occurred to me not to post it until later for fear that I might be considered/adjudged too self-focused and, thus, dispassionate about the mounting and current and present travails of others. Then, as I consider that I write from my experience and the instant encounter that I detailed happened a week or so ago, I, giving it a second thought, determined to share it.

    Thank you for your kind words about how I have been of help to you. I appreciate your approbations more than I can say.

    And, as for you, carry on!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really glad you published it!! Spoke volumes to me!!

    Love you back


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