Walls

Good morning all, Hope you’re enjoying lovely sunshine as are we!

Many of you have surmised that we’ve been in the tiny country of Malta this last week.  As you’re reading this, we’ll be worshipping at the St Paul’s Cathedral in Valletta.  We wanted to go there and thank the nice people whom we met over two years ago who were so kind to pray for my healing when I had (but didn’t know it yet) Chikungunya, a mosquito borne mutation of Malaria.

Because of that miserable first visit, where we spent most of our time at the hospital, we decided to have a ‘do over’ now that I’m well, and I’m happy to say I’ve spent most of the week with my heart in my throat in awe of the amazing history of this place.  Needless to say, Tony’s been enraptured with it all as well.

If you ever thought the Bible was just an allegory or a “made up” story, read Acts 27 and 28.  The good Doctor Luke reported Paul’s adventures here in Malta with such accuracy and attention to detail, you can almost smell the salt in the air as you read. The little apartment where we’re staying this week is just up the road from the beach where most people believe Paul and his captors swam ashore after being shipwrecked. And looking at all the churches, shrines and souvenir shops in the area, I can almost believe it. But there is some controversy as to the exact location. A good case can be made for another spot just up the beach, and I like that place because divers actually brought up four 1st century anchors there that sound a lot like the ones that were cut loose from Paul’s ship (Acts 27: 29, 40). Yesterday, Tony and I went to the museum where the anchors are on display, but the room was undergoing renovations so we couldn’t get in to see them!

We did visit the cave where Paul and the other prisoners were held for the three months while they wintered on their way to Rome.  A lot of evidence even outside the Bible supports it. So it was exciting to see. Above the cave now sits a gargantuan church built in AD67 by one of the nobility that Paul led to Christ!  How amazing.

But my moral treatise this morning is not about Paul, it’s about walls.

I’ll try to put in a picture of the city of Valletta (Sorry to those viewing the website blog; I’m technically challenged today).  The castle/fort/city of Valletta was built by some Crusaders, known as “The Knights of St John” around AD1073.

Before you think ill of the Crusaders, they did stop the westward expansion of the Ottomans and that needed to be done.  In the words of my Church History professor, “If it wasn’t for the Crusades you and I would be Muslim now”.   Modern history (today) tells us that this may be happening again if we’re not careful.

But back to Malta.

In 1530 the tiny island of Malta was given to the Knights of St John along with the responsibility of protecting ALL of the Mediterranean. The ‘rent’ for this privilege was one falcon a year.

And so they began……….and this is what struck me this week.

These knights, before anything else, concentrated themselves to Christ and built the WALLS of the city.  Most of them exist even today, strong as ever 600 years later.

Without fortifications, there can be no safety.

I was raised in a fairly normal family, and was afforded a fairly normal happy life.  Marriage for these 48 years has been wonderful.

Some of this, I believe is due to the fact that I felt secure within my walls.  I think now we call them “boundaries”.  Check out Psalms 74, where it talks about God setting up the boundaries in and around us.

Now the city of Valletta is a vibrant bustling city, The knights made it 268 years and did a tremendous service to humanity as well as world history. They eventually ‘fell’, partly because many of them had essentially lost their calling and had taken up the art of “corsair-ing” (That means ‘privateering’ for the sake of profit…..not a noble cause for a Knight supposedly dedicated to God).  There was also the fact that by now most of the knights were French and so welcomed Napoleon when he invaded Malta. Napoleon abolished the Spanish Inquisition, which I think was a good thing, but as far as the romantic vision of knights and fights for the rights……that basically came to an end in Malta.

So what are the walls that protect you and keep you on track for your service to God? Those things would make some great points in a sermon that I’m bound to hear from Tony one day soon. A few suggestions: Reading your Bible every day, surrounding yourself with folks who can keep you encouraged and accountable, reminding yourself daily just what God has called you to do, becoming so close to God that when the enemy knocks at the gate, you won’t be tempted to go open it and see what he wants.

Build your walls, keep them strong!

Love ya, Marsha

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