The Pulse

The Pulse

Behind The Barriers
Drew
Drew
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His eyes stinging with sweat, he came to a halt in his work—the wall. The wall was made of pure steel and it stood high above the ground. No one could see over the metal barrier. He never felt so…safe.

*******

The first wood plank went up. Before applying any of the white paint, he edged in a list. The list was dug deep into the wood; unless the fence be taken down—the names will never fade away.

The sun was just rising, and with it, his work was just beginning. He began by digging individual slots for the picket planks. He shoveled deep so the fence would be planted in the ground. Then, one by one, each plank stood up. The man connected each plank by two rails. The posts stood 4 feet tall and 3 feet was in the ground. The distance between each post was only 1 inch—that way no can see beyond it. He then went on to paint it white. Each stroke of the brush meant something to him, each plank he finished coating was decorating something. When he was all done with his white picket fence, he felt accomplished. After all, it was perfectly symmetric and surrounded his entire house. The wood was dense and planted firmly in the ground. The fence was so…pleasing. To anyone walking by, the fence looked like it belonged—natural. He made a picket fence for this reason. He didn’t want anyone to be questioning—concerned—about what laid behind the fence.

*******

It was hurt, screaming in pain. It was numb, silent in despair.

*******

He became no longer content with this worthless wood. If one so wished, they would approach the 4-foot-tall fence and see the house— “too close” he thought. Besides, what once was a perfect coat of white paint was now a chipping and deteriorating, fading white picket fence. He then went to put in another fence: this time it would be a chain fence—something not so appealing. He laid the blueprint: It would again surround his house. This time though he would make this fence 7 feet tall. It would also be placed 7 feet from his picket fence. “A more comfortable height and distance” he thought. The chains were to be thick and dense so that a child’s hand could not even fit between the holes. When he finally installed the metal chain fence He thought to himself “This will keep them away; this ugly thing should do the trick”

*******

It was fury, full of fire and burning hate. Yet, it was cold and empty.

*******

This fence was stronger, more stable, yet, it was, in some sense, see through—after all it was just chain fence. People could still see through the barrier and see the picket fence behind and then over that short wall—his house. He was fed up with this; he will have his safety. He started to design it. It was to be 20 feet high and 4 feet thick. Again, it would surround his house. Frustration and haste went into its making. It was in a short matter of time for the wall to come up—the steel wall. It casted a shadow on the house when the sunset came. It was impregnatable, it was an immovable defense. Its foundation was deep and its purpose was undoubting. His reasoning was deep, his purpose was intentful. No mistakes were made in its building, its creation was of perfect design.

********

It was a storm, raging and crashing. Yet, it was a puddle, still and lifeless.

********

His eyes stinging with sweat, he came to a halt in his work—the wall. The wall was made of pure steel and it stood high above the ground. No one could see passed the metal barrier. He never felt so…safe. Yet, one day, and that’s all it took, a visitor stood pounding the outside of the steel wall. The strong bashes were heard from the house. The owner of the house, the builder of the walls, could not ignore the pounding. He, annoyed, went up to the last barrier and yelled “Would stop that, please? Thank you.” The builder of the wall was starting to walk away when the banging from the steel wall continued. He again approached the cold steel and yelled “I told you stop! What do you want?” Then came a response, it was quiet but still hearable from the other side of the steel wall, “I only wish to come in and say hello”. The man, the builder of the wall, was a little confused by the reply. Somehow, unknown how to him, the builder of the wall, asked “If I let you say hello, will you then go?”.

The visitor outside of the wall replied, after a moment, “Yes”. The builder of the wall then let the intrusion in. The visitor, when they met eyes, said “Hello” to the man.

The builder of the wall then replied awkwardly “Hello?”.

The visitor, still looking right at the man’s eyes, said “Well I best be off”.

The man bewildered by the statement, asked, as the visitor was leaving, “Was that it?”. With his backed turned towards the man, the visitor replied “You should really consider tearing this wall down…Drew”. Quickly, the man responded “How do you know my name? Hey! How did you know my name!”. Too late—the visitor was gone.

********

It used to live, it used to love.

********

The next day, again, at nearly sunset, there was pounding at the steel door. This time, the man was angered and went to meet the visitor. Just in case of it being different person, the man yelled again, “Hello, would you stop that please? Thank you.” Again, as the man was leaving the wall, the banging started again.

“Hey! Is it you again?” The man yelled, “Please, go bother someone else!” The pounding still continued, “You said you would leave me alone after you said hello!”

“I said I would leave yesterday; I said nothing about today!”

After a long moment, the man grudgingly petitioned “If I let you in today, will you not come back tomorrow or any other day?”

The visitor replied “Only if that’s what you want

He then let him in again. When the two met eyes, again, the visitor had smile on his face, “Hello again” he cheekily said. The builder of the house was first silent and then “What exactly do you want, and how did you know my name?” The visitor quickly answered “How long since you’ve seen the sunset?”.

“What?” asked the builder of the wall.

“Yah know the sunset, how long since you’ve seen it?”

The man answered “Awhile…Since I put the wall up”.

The visitor responded “Shame, real shame; since lately the sunsets have been beautiful”.

“They’re always beautiful around here.”

“Then why put the wall up?”

“I don’t watch them anymore”

“Shame, they’re still real beautiful.”

Growing impatient, which what seemed at the time a pointless conversation, the man, irritated, asked “Are we done?”

“Yes, sorry. I must be off.” As the visitor was turning to leave, “You should at least consider it, taking down this wall and all.” And again, the visitor was gone.

The man annoyed by the intrusion went to bed—trying to sleep off his irritation. When he finally fell asleep, he dreamed. He dreamed of watching the sunsets with them. He awoke. Stirred by the dream he got up. He then ran over to puke in his bathroom toilet. After the emission, the man walked to see the steel wall. “I guess…I would like to see them again” he thought. He then tore down the steel wall.

********

It use to pound. It used to throb.

********

It took until dawn to bring the steel wall down. He was exhausted and retired to his house. He opened the door and went to a backroom. In the room, laid a safe. He then spun the code and cracked the safe open. In the safe laid photographs—he gave a sigh. He picked up the stack of pictures. The first was a wedding photo of him and his wife. Then was a photo of his children and him playing baseball on the lawn. The next—was a family picture of them watching the sun go down—watching the sunset all together—all alive. He then began to cry—and he cried bitterly. He cried so long, puddles began to form of the floor of the backroom.

********

It used to beat. It used to pump.

********

The next day came and so did the visitor. The man was awoken, on the floor of the backroom, by the sound of a bat hitting the, now rusted, chain fence. When the man went out to meet the visitor, knowing exactly who it was, said “Hello again.”

“Hello!” the visitor enthusiastically responded. “I see you took the wall down, good choice! Now you can see those magnificent sunsets!”

“Yup. Is there something you want again?”

“I was just hoping to play a little baseball with yah, only—this metal fence is in the way,” There was another awkward silence between the two: the man was refusing to respond to the visitor. “When was the last time you threw and hit the ball around?”

“Awhile…Since my family died.” quietly replied the man. By now the visitor had been let inside of the chain fence. The visitor then put his hand on the man’s shoulder. Quickly, the man noticed—there was holes in the palm of the visitor’s hands. “Let’s say we do something about this fence then, Drew?

********

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Cover Image Credit: That White Paper Guy

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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9 Things I Learned At Passion 2019

God is awesome. Even four arenas full of awesome.

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For those who may not know, Passion is a Christian conference that seeks to bring together college students for "worship, prayer, justice and spiritual awakening". This year, the conference's attendance sold out four arenas - two in Georgia, one in Texas, and one in Washington D.C.

Passion is so massive for a reason: it offers Biblical teaching, community, support and service opportunities to a mass of college students searching for God's heart in such a crazy time in history. While I did not vet to attend the conference live, I did follow the live stream. Many of the things I learned at Passion I had heard before, but had not been ready to receive with my heart. God had begun softening my heart about a month before Christmas, and Passion came just in time to solidify that new spirit. Here are just a few of the little nuggets of truth that my heart received at Passion this year.

1. If God's not in it, I don't want it 

"If you're not in it, I don't want it." This was a lyric sung by Kari Jobe, and it just resonated with me, especially after all the beautiful reminders this weekend that God has both my own best interest at heart and the interest of all his people. Why would I want anything less than that? As Louie Giglio said, "There is an enemy that also has a plan for you", and I cannot afford to follow any road map but the one that God has laid out for me. (Philipians 4:8)

2. Worship and justice are on the same side of the coin 

I've always thought of spiritual concerns as mostly separate from political or socioeconomic issues, but God wants to see wrongs made right, but through His power. Passion always picks a platform to raise money for in the name of both worship and justice. This year, attendees raised money for the Deaf Bible Society in order to share the gospel with the deaf communities of multiple countries and give them Scripture in their heart language. We raised just under $450,000! College students with no money make for a "loaves and fishes" kind of awesomeness. As Lecrae said, or rapped on Night 2, "Being broke made me rich". (Isaiah 1:17)

3. Joy does not equal happiness, because joy is better than happiness 

Seeing four arenas full of young adults who are as hungry for Jesus as you are gives you a joy I cannot explain. I have an 18 hr course load, a job, and three huge projects this semester, but I am joyful beyond belief because I serve a God who loves me even when I fail miserably and sees me seeking his heart even when I don't feel seen by anyone else. How cool is that?! (James 1: 2-3)

4. An attitude of gratitude changes EVERYTHING!

I've decided to make "gratitude" my word for the year. I've spent a lot of time looking at what others have instead of what immense blessing God has laid right in front of me. I know I'm not the only one that struggles with this, and I just want to shout from the rooftops that thanking God daily will not only delight His heart, but yours too! Thanksgiving heals wounds, y'all! (Colossians 3:15)

5. When you let God remove something destructive from your life, you have to replace it with something better 

It's great to do a clean out of your heart and get rid of things you know will hurt you, but if when let that empty space sit unfilled by God, it will just get refilled by whatever was in there before. (2 Cor. 5:17)

6. Temporary solutions don't work for your heart; it needs a permanent fix 

The only thing that can put broken hearts back together is God's love. It sounds crazy and a little like an episode of Veggie Tales, but it's true. When you bring all your brokenness to Christ and ask Him to make it something beautiful, He shows up and shows out! (Psalm 147:3)

7. You run to who you trust 

Who do you go to when you're having the worst day of your life? Who is on speed dial in your phone? Who do you need in an emergency? Those are the people that you have placed your trust in? In the same way that we are careful who we place our trust in physically and emotionally, so should we only place our spiritual trust in Christ because He has already proven Himself to be our sole means of salvation. (Matthew 6:21)

8. Hope is the architect and faith is the builder 

This one might seem cheesy, but stick with me. Jesus became our architect when he offered us His plan of salvation. His death means that if we surrender to his design, we can have new life! But, we have to put our faith in Jesus daily in order for the structure to be built. Of course, we will all fail miserably sometimes and come very short of perfection, but God's grace is big enough to override all the messes we make.

9. Humans have incredibly short attention spans, but God knows that 

The world "Behold" is a lot in Scripture because God knows that it is difficult to get our attention! Thank goodness He has an abundance of patience with our stubborn hearts.

In short, Jesus is *literally* life, it's not about us, and love wins every time.

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