Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the Fall of the Wall - Again

In an article published online yesterday in the Wall Street Journal entitled Reagan in Berlin, John Fund recounts some of the debate around President Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall Speech" he delivered in Germany in 1987. Many recognize this speech as the tipping point leading to the demise of the Soviet Empire. Fund mentions that streets are named after Ronald Reagin in Budapest, Warsaw and Cracow. But, in Berlin, no name changes have been made (though I do recall having been on JFK Street there). Fund then quotes Lothar de Maziere, the conservative who served as East Germany's last president before the country was dissolved:
"The decision to name streets is done at the district level, so maybe something can be done with the local officials," he told me. De Maziere, who as a lawyer defended people who had failed to escape East Germany, says he has no doubt that average people give Reagan a lot more credit for the Wall's fall than do elites. "The name of Reagan is in the heart of ordinary Berliners," he says. "While many people jostle to take credit for what Reagan set in motion, in the end his legacy is secure."
The last line has me thinking this morning. Each and every day you and I seek to set things in motion. To act today so that a better tomorrow can be realized. And we labor in the shadows - in secret - unnoticed and unheralded. But, we are effective. There will, in many ways, be a better tomorrow because we have given people hope, encouragement, exhortation and challenge today. And, if the change is really big (or at least significant), someone might even try to take credit.

But, in the end, you know and I know it was our influence that helped make it happen. And, in the end, our "legacy is secure."

So, the real challenge is this: are you willing to stand firm, labor silently in the shadows, and endure today knowing that it may be in excess of two decades before the effects of the change you influence today is realized? Knowing that your legacy or the significance of your influence may never be realized in your lifetime? Then, carry on.

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor 15:58 (HCSB)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

These thoughts were recorded in 1998 as I prepared to journey to Eastern Europe for a three-year mission term. On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, I thought I'd re-post them here.

In 1987, I made a choice. I was in Germany and had a free weekend to sightsee. My wife and I had been in Munich a couple of weeks before and I had enjoyed the visit. On this free weekend, I could return to Munich (which was familiar and "known") or I could journey to Berlin (the unfamiliar and "unknown"). I elected to return to Munich and enjoyed the weekend.

Two years later, I watched with millions of others around the world as "The Wall" came down, reuniting the divided city. At that moment I realized I had missed an opportunity that would never again be available to me. I had missed an opportunity because I had opted for the safe, familiar and comfortable destination rather than the one that held some "risk" for me.

For some reason I reflected on this experience this weekend as I thought about the people God brings into my life every day. Some I will never meet again. Others need a kind word of encouragement. Still others may learn something from our encounter that will impact the rest of their lives. For others, God might use the opportunity to draw someone into a personal relationship with Him.

God, help me recognize the opportunities of lifetimes. May I never turn from their challenges by escaping into the familiar and comfortable.

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