In the mid 1960’s my parents bought a tiny place along Angel Fork outside Saint Albans, West Virginia. That place, with the impressive address of 2222 Main Drive, became my home. Life there had its challenges. For example, the hill behind the house stopped its decent two feet from the foundation. Those who have lived near slopes with predominantly clay soil understand that rain and snow can move soil sometimes in dramatic ways. Dad set out to push the hill aside to create a level backyard.
The project could have been a short term get-it-done task if we had the money to hire a contractor with earth moving equipment, but Dad had something better—three sons, a wheelbarrow, two shovels and a mattock. Yes, we moved that hillside by hand over the years.
As each section was extracted from the hillside Dad wielded his three pound sledge hammer and his well-worn chisel to shape stones into an impressive wall.
The stones came from the hillside and the surrounding creeks though a good number were imported. West Virginia posts “Falling Rock” warnings along many secondary roads and a nicely shaped rock discarded in a ditch was one of two reasons Woody would hit the brakes for a stop as we rocketed down those winding roads. The other reason was symptoms of the overwhelming motion sickness ailing his middle son. I never understood how I evaded being tagged with the nickname “Old Faithful.” Perhaps with the moniker “John Wayne” I had enough to live up to.
Mom sent us into the hills to find “good black dirt” which hid under rotting logs and rock ledges where old leaves gathered to rot. She had her own vision for that wall—an endless display of flowers that she could admire as she looked out her kitchen window. Daffodils, tulips, phlox, crocus, and wildflowers of all kinds took up residence in Mary’s Garden on top of Woody’s Wall. Woody and Mary made quite a show.
Dad’s wall stood the test of time—well-built and gaining character with the years, one of the first things visitors noticed. But the wall had a job to do and did it well. The hillside remained on the hill, and the backyard became a place for family gatherings, picnics, croquet tournaments, marshmallow roasts and all sorts of fun activities. When the time came for a change in residence leaving that wall behind was a difficult decision for Mom.
The Old Testament character, Nabal, sent his servants to tend flocks in the wilderness while David and his crew lived there in the wild. David and his hungry men could have taken Nabal’s sheep, run off his shepherds, and enjoyed a feast. But they acted with integrity and sheltered the shepherds and flocks. Later in the story (1 Samuel 25) one of those servants shared this testimony about the integrity of David’s band.
“Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep.” 1 Samuel 25:15-16 NASB
Protection. Security. A sense of comfort. Yes, those shepherds enjoyed the wall of David’s presence.
We’re living in a wilderness of unprecedented events. It’s easy to feel despair, discouragement, depression and a host of other D words. Believers, we have a double wall of protection, and these are not my words. They are the words of Jesus Christ.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:27-29 NASB
I am wrapped in the hand of Jesus and His hand is wrapped in the hand of God. Yes, I think that is the safest place around.