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Of Hedges And Walls

December 2009

     In his well-known poem, Mending Walls, Robert Frost wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”
     How true.
Human nature resists the restrictions of a wall. Yet not all walls are bad – and life has many walls and hedges, some which we build ourselves, and some which others erect for our good.
     We build some hedges to keep things out—like the fence I put up this spring, to try to keep the deer out of our garden. Other walls are meant to keep things in, like the farmer who keeps his cows from wandering off by building fences.
     Hedges and walls often do serve a valuable and practical purpose, and we usually like them – when their purpose is well served. For example, in our houses they keep the cold out and the warmth in, at this time of year.
     There is an aspect, however, in which hedges and walls carry a negative implication. Walls are not always friendly. And when walls are used negatively, they become a means of irritation to those who meet up with them.
     The recent anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall focussed on the tragedy of a barrier whose purpose was to divide a nation and a people. In its 28 year history that wall caused many tears and heartaches for those affected by its division. It was a wall which was hated by many, and ultimately, to the joy of many, it came crashing down, representing freedom to those in whose path it had once stood.
     “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”
     However, let’s remember that not all barriers are bad. In fact, there are some which we badly need.
     In the Bible, in Job 1:9, we are given a glimpse into the spirit world. Satan is accusing God of specifically protecting people who honour and fear Him. “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?”
     It was true. God had built a spiritual hedge around Job, which protected him. Satan could not cross that barrier. For reasons which are not fully known to us, in this account we see God temporarily allowing Satan to reach Job. First Satan destroyed Job’s possessions. Then even his children all died in a Satan-induced storm.
     Job bore his afflictions well. He did not lose his faith in God, and as a result of this account, we remember Job today by the familiar label, “The Patience of Job.”
     This Bible story is a lesson for us. Faith is the avenue by which we come to know God. And God rewards faith in Him—one way being by a hedge of spiritual protection.
That is a hedge for which to thank God.

—Mervin Brubacher
   Barwick, ON