Slowly, methodically, a man slaps mortar on a brick, and places it on a short wall. Rows of them lined upon each other, drying in the sun. A fierce wind picks up from nowhere, and blows down part of his wall. Patiently, the man rebuilds the section; painstakingly placing each brick by hand. What is the man protecting? A small tree grows within the walled area, its branches reaching toward the sun, but its trunk not yet strong enough to survive. The man wishes to protect this tree, but things keep interfering. First the wind, now a stray cow knocks down another part of the wall.
Starting to despair a little, the man resignedly repairs that section as well, feeling as though his work is never done. Shortly thereafter, it begins to rain, and the man packs up and heads home. The next morning he returns to find his wall has dissolved into a mass of brick and muck, laying in a vague circle around the pathetic little tree.
Most of the morning is spent removing the wasted materials, and the man sits down for lunch, pondering his problem. Each time he repairs the wall, it gets broken again, and the rain tore it down entirely. What was he to do? Staring at the tree, pondering in his mind and in his heart, a plan began to form.
That afternoon, instead of working on the wall, the man dug around the tree, and fertilized it. He then went home. In the morning, the tree looked no different. He began to build the wall again. During lunch he had the same nagging idea, and he spent the afternoon pruning and caring for the tree itself. The man found that by building only in the morning, the wall was mostly dry by night, and completely dry by the next morning. The weight no longer made the wall weak. Days progressed into weeks, and eventually the wall was finished. Stepping back and gazing upon his masterpiece, the man was astounded to find that the tree was still taller than the wall. It had long leafy branches, and lovely buds were forming into little white blossoms.
He had been so preoccupied with the wall, and caring for the tree, that he hadn't noticed its growth.
And so it is with our faith in God. If we spend all of our time protecting our beliefs from others, our faith languishes without nourishment. But if we spend equal time between strengthening our will, and growing our faith, then our faith will be able to withstand: the winds of change, the sudden buffets of attack, and the slow painful erosion of doubt.