A Different Kind of Wall


Bil was a proud man (yes, he spelled his name that way). Trust me, I know because I have an excess of pride myself. I came to know him when he played the lead role in my production of A Man for All Seasons, a talky but moving play about the British saint Sir Thomas More. Bil’s audition was brilliant, but as rehearsals went on it became clear that there was a wall around his heart. And no one, not me (his director), and certainly not the God of Sir Thomas More, was allowed past that wall.

His acting pyrotechnics were undeniable. But his heart never came out to play. “I don’t cry,” he admitted just before the play opened, “but don’t worry, I know how to fake it.” His talent—and the wall—were on display nightly.

Thirty years later a mutual friend, Laurie, sent me a message that Bil had had a heart attack. “Pray,” she said. “God is using this. For the first time he’s admitting he needs someone other than himself.” But Bil managed to slip past death’s door, and reconstruction on the wall began immediately.

Then, after two more years, his lone wolf heart broke down for the final time. Laurie (and several others) visited him regularly, telling him about—and displaying—the love of the God he’d never let past that wall. Slowly, weakened by a broken dam of others’ tears, the wall began to crumble. Bil died, confessing his need for the God who’d never ceased to seek him.

Away in a Manger is probably the tenderest of all Christmas carols. Perhaps because it’s actually a nursery rhyme. It closes with the words, “Be near me lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in your tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.” I think of Bil when I hear those words.

father-and-son-holding-handsIt took a lifetime for God to fit him for heaven. But He finally did. God’s love is ruthless. It stops at nothing, certainly no human-made wall. But then, He’s a Father and fathers are like that. See you on the other side, Bil. As soon as the last vestiges of my wall are down, and the Father is finished…

Fitting me for heaven.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to A Different Kind of Wall

  1. Great reminder, it is never too late for us to be a gentle witness and share God’s abundant love and grace! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on View from the Ponderosa and commented:
    We all need to be mindful of what God might be doing to fit us all for heaven. God’s love is ruthless. It stops at nothing. Lord, fit us all for heaven!


  3. V.J. says:

    What a wonderful story. Blessings for the season, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dawnlizjones says:

    “God’s love is ruthless. It stops at nothing, certainly no human-made wall.” Oh soOOooo timely in my life right now!! He is fitting me and my family, and I will be patiently hopeful for His full work of grace in His perfect timing!! Thank you!!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. n3v3rm0r3 says:

    Ruthless, indeed…and unfathomably deep. May we grow wise enough to see His love at work in our lives.

    Love, peace and light!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. atimetoshare.me says:

    Lovely story, Mitch. Christmas is the perfect time to tear down the walls. Merry Christmas to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tabitha59reachingout says:

    I’m so glad this had a happy ending. It reminds me of my dear friends husband, who finally asked Christ into his life 2 days before he died. That’s really cutting it close! We all are still thanking God for His great love. Thanks for the reminder. Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. JJAzar says:

    Merry Christmas, Mitch. What a beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CSL says:

    This year, I’ve developed a new appreciation for this carol. Prior to this, I felt it a sweet but childish lullaby and not really a song for church-singing. That hasn’t changed, but something in the line you cited hit me this year. The simple plea to be loved–“love me, I pray”–struck me hard, in church a couple of weeks ago.

    Yes, it sounds like a child’s plea to be loved, but we all have that same need and desire, don’t we? We join get good at hiding our need in order to protect ourselves, lest we find our plea to be loved falls on deaf ears.

    But still we plead with something out there, “Love me, I pray.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. winfred says:

    Wow… so simply written yet so deep.. ❤
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  11. oneta hayes says:

    Sometimes he uses the pruning shears, but “fit me” still, Lord Jesus, I pray. Merry Christmas, Mitch, to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Merry Christmas to you, Mitch! :O)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like the way you put that, Mitch…how the Father is fitting us for heaven. I have known my 92-year-old mother-in-law (more commonly known as my mother-in-love) for over 43 years, and she has truly become more beautiful (inside and out) with each passing year. When she is finally called home, I have to think that she will truly be ‘fit for heaven,’ and if it is possible heaven will be that much more beautiful as well! ☝🏻💖🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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