He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. ~ Proverbs 25:28
What a picture this verse gives us – a city broken down, without walls. That city is highly vulnerable! Any beggar can pilfer the remains. Vandals can destroy and loot the property. Enemies are given freedom to come in and do as much harm as they desire. Charles Bridges says, “He that hath no rule over his spirit is an easy prey to the invader. Anyone may irritate and torment him.”
My dad struggled with a bad temper before he was saved. He struggled with it after he was born again, too. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from sin – though I wish it did! I remember that he quoted this verse and told us he was working on controlling his temper. The image of this weakened city resonated with him, and he didn’t want to be that way. I am happy to say that God gave him victory in this area before his death. Dad wasn’t perfect – he could still get riled up on a bad day – but he didn’t stay that way. He worked to correct the error and not to make it again.
The only way to fortify ourselves is to build up walls of prayer around us. Prayer – the great work of the Christian life! It is so easy to say “I’ll pray,” and so hard to follow through – for me, anyway. Christ said in the model prayer “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. (Matthew 6:13) That should be our prayer as well. We do not want to be led astray by anger or lust, thereby committing murder or adultery. We want to live holy lives that glorify the Lord. This can only be done with Christ’s help, and that can only come through prayer and Bible reading.
Today just happens to be my birthday. It was a blessing to be reminded today of all days, that my dad is still speaking to me. No, not through the Bible, my Heavenly Father does that. My dad speaks through his legacy. He speaks through the life he lived in front of me every day as he tried to be pliable in the Potter’s hands. In a way, I do see my dad through Scripture – because that was where he sought guidance. He never said, “Read your Bible, Valerie!” He said, “Look what I read in the Bible, Valerie.” He showed me each day that his struggles were real, but not insurmountable. His faith was small, but God’s grace was abundant. His life pointed to Jesus – the Author and Finisher of his faith.
As long as I have a Bible, I can hear my parents’ voices through its pages. I find reminders of them all throughout God’s Word saying to me, “This passage helped us to keep going, it will help you, too!”
And in my darkest moments, or when I stumble and fall, I imagine that my dad is standing on the shores of Heaven, cheering me on. He says, “Get up! You can do it! Keep running! It is worth it all!”