My name is Chuck Wills and for the past year I have lived with a wall around my heart. I call it My Jericho Heart. If you don't know the story of Jericho it goes like this: Joshua was leading the Israelites and they were trying to capture the city of Jericho, but this city was surrounded by an impenetrable wall. God instructed Joshua and the people to walk around the city multiple times, praising Him in the process, and then the wall would come down. In Joshua chapter 6, the Bible says “Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out.” That was my heart. I was shut up tight.
For me, having a wall around my heart means being closed off and living only on the things inside the wall. I built the wall without having God inside of it, so my heart has been barren for the past year. Basically, I was living off the resources I had provided for myself and thought what I was bringing to the table was enough.
It was not enough. Living with a spiritually flat-lined heart meant I was spiritually dead. And the worst part about having my Jericho heart was that I didn’t actively build it. I know that sounds dumb and you're thinking, “How can you build a wall around your heart and have God outside of it and not even know you're doing it?” To that I say, Rome was not built in a day. Usually that has a positive connotation to it like “I have to memorize 150 vocal words for this test next week, but Rome wasn't built in a day so let’s get started.”
But in my specific circumstance it means the wall around my heart was slowly being built without my knowledge because I stopped actively pursuing Jesus. There was no specific reason, no event that happened, I just stopped. I wasn't bitter towards God. I was just lazy in my walk. So lazy that if I even called it a walk I would be lying. Walls don't move. So I didn't move.
For a whole year of my life I had no desire to invest in a relationship unless there was a benefit to me. For a whole year of my life I had no desire to go to church. Church was just another thing to do. I would sit, stand, sing, sit, stand and then leave. That was my routine. And it was an empty routine lead by a hollow heart surrounded by a wall, a wall that blocked out anything from filling it up. I was empty.
So when the time came to finally come to the understanding that I was empty, I turned to God. But I couldn't feel Him. I then became bitter towards God because I associated this emptiness with distance. “God, why are you so distant?” “God, why can’t I feel you?” “Jesus, there were so many times that I would cry with joy just because I thought about you. Where are you now?” I was mad at God for being distant when I was the one who kept Him out of my heart. My Jericho Heart was the only thing between God and my real heart.
A few weekends ago, I went to a retreat with multiple churches that I am not affiliated with. It was called Empower. I knew some people from my school that went, but essentially I was there alone. I didn't know the people, I didn't know the songs, I didn't know the name of the pastor speaking the sessions. My mindset was as it has always been. I will sit, stand, sing, sit, and stand until the weekend is over. I kept thinking to myself Friday night, “Why am I even here? I don't belong here. Is it Monday yet? Can I go home now?” I did not want to be there.
But then Saturday morning rolled around. We had session again, but this time we just worshiped and prayed then we were all asked to leave the chapel and to spend 45 minutes with God, praying He would reveal our identity to us, and to also write out our testimony in the form of chapters until our breakout sessions started. I thought this was a great idea! Not because it was what I needed, but because I feel like every time I share my testimony I always forget something. Am I the only one? Probably. But anyway, I wrote out my story and then went to my breakout session.
“After the fire, a still small voice…” was the session I signed up for. I didn't know what that meant, it just sounded awesome. A man named Ryan Christopher was leading the session. He opened the session by saying “During worship, I got a word. And it was a picture that I would like to share with you guys. It was a house. And inside the house there were people. And the people inside the house started opening up the doors, opening up the windows. And I feel like the Lord was telling me that that house is your heart. And in that moment, I felt like the Lord was at the door and He was saying, 'Hey. Open up your doors. Open up your spirit.'"
In Joshua, The Lord commands them to yell at the top of their lungs and the wall will collapse and “all the people are to enter. But that is not what happened to me. Jesus walked up to the wall around my heart and touched it. The smallest, softest touch I have ever felt. Like the whisper Elijah heard after the fire. God didn't bang on the door and scream “Let me in! I’m right here!” No.
Jesus walked up and touched My Jericho Heart.
And the walls came down.
And the door flew open.
And the windows shone with light.
Because through the still small voice that Ryan was talking about that morning, My Jericho Heart came tumbling down. Now, the walls are down, and they will stay down. The door is open, and it will stay open. The windows blast light, and the light will not go out.
For the longest time I struggled with feeling as if God had left me out to dry in a season of life alone, when in fact it was me subconsciously shutting Him out. So here is what I would say to anyone who has felt as if God is not active and present in their life. For anyone who feels “dry” or “distant” from God. Is God really not present in your life, or are you not letting Him in? Listen to the whisper and let your walls fall down.
*Chuck will be going on a mission trip in a few months to help others understand the love of Jesus and maybe even break down their own Jericho hearts. If you'd like to donate, click here