The Fourth Wall

The winding highways and farm roads of central Indiana are punctuated with small towns. Many of the houses in these towns are a century old or more, dating back to an era before vinyl and aluminum siding. Maintaining one of these houses can be a full-time hobby as winter's cold and summer's heat tag-team to chip and crack even the best paint-job.

One house in particular caught my eye several years ago. This big two- story home had been meticulously painted... on three sides. The fourth wall, the back of the house, still sported the old, peeling paint, which had once graced the entire home.

My first thought was "work in progress"; a big job takes time to do right and I guessed that the homeowner would soon be finishing up. I was wrong. As weeks stretched into months, I wondered each time I drove past: "Maybe he's waiting for better weather," I thought. "Maybe he ran out of money." I finally gave up looking; the last time I noticed, the fourth wall was still unpainted.

Your life is a house with four walls. The front wall is the side you show the world; it's where you put your best foot forward, the carefully crafted public image we all hide behind. The second wall of your life is the "private" side, the person that your family and close friends and co-workers see. This side is usually rougher than the front, since these people know the "real" you a little better. They sometimes see you at your worst and know how bad you can really be.

The third wall is worse still, a hidden side, the image of yourself that you keep in your own mind. The side is rougher because it includes many hidden sins that you alone know about, the darker parts of your inner self that are carefully hidden from even those closest to you. Whereas your public and private sides exist in the minds of others, this side exists only in your own mind. It's a side of yourself that even you may not like, yet this side is not an entirely accurate picture either, for each of us has sins which we hide even from ourselves, sins we refuse to acknowledge. This dishonesty keeps the third side from being as flawed as it could be, though our self-deception is perhaps the greatest flaw of all.

Finally, we reach the back of the house, the fourth wall. The fourth wall is the image of you that God sees. Strangely, this side of you can be both the worst and the best side of all. It is the worst side because there is nothing you can do to conceal a single blemish from the piercing eye of the Almighty. Every sin, public or private, is revealed in all its hideousness here, laid bare before him. Sadly, even the sins that you refuse to see, the sins that your mind will not admit or acknowledge, are here in plain sight. No truer, more revolting image of you exists anywhere else in the universe. But...

By a miracle of grace, the fourth wall can also become the most beautiful wall, more perfect even than the carefully groomed public image of the first wall. For as a believer, the blood of Jesus covers your sins like a fresh coat of gleaming white paint that will never crack, peel, or fade. Christ can make the fourth wall of your life more perfect than any of the other three, simply because the other three sides are YOUR creation, and the fourth side can be HIS. And in Christ, when God looks at you he sees a perfection you could never attain on your own; he sees the perfect image of his own son.

What would you pay for house paint that will last forever? What would you say if I told you that somebody had already paid for your paint AND was willing to scrape, sand, and paint your house for you? Too good to be true, right? Not in this case.

What you cannot conceal, God is willing to overlook. What you cannot hide, God is willing to cover over. What you cannot overcome, God is willing to dismiss. But only when it is buried deep within the covering of his son's blood.

The fourth wall of your life needs some paint. Have you met the master painter?

[ by Mark Phillips ( -- from 'Daily Wisdom' ]


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