I’m holding a jagged piece of concrete, about the size of hand. One side Is flat, and covered with brilliant blue paint, the other porous and broken. 20 years ago today someone, among tens of thousands of jubilant Germans took a sledge hammer to the Berlin Wall and this particular piece broke free. A few months later it arrived in the mail sent to me by a friend living in Berlin at the time. Today, along with the rest of the free world, I’m remembering the miracle.
The blue paint indicates that this particular section of the Berlin Wall faced the west side. West Berliners had made the Wall a kind of shrine to the hope of freedom and reconciliation. They covered their side of the barrier with graffiti, some political, some deeply personal. Rally cries of liberation had been etched beside the names of friends and family who, though no more than ten feet away in real space remained a world apart. Did this small smudge of blue paint once represent the name of someone’s sister? Did it once serve as part of a spray painted word, “Freedom!”? Was it a sliver of a prayer, “God, save us!”?
I don’t know the specific story behind this real “piece” of history, but I cherish it as a reminder that impossible walls can come down, that God does do miracles, that barriers to destiny, though they stand for decades, can, in a moment, the right moment, fall to dust without a gunshot. The breach can and will be spanned.
I’ve had Berlin Walls in my own life, spans of rocky barriers that have divided me from people I love, from God’s destiny for me, from a full and complete relationship with God himself. But that’s now past. At one specific point in my life, one miracle-day when it seemed most improbable, God lifted the oppression and I had courage and capacity to take a hammer to the wall. When I did, down it came. I can say it straight: I have been reconciled by God’s grace in the power of Jesus Christ. I no longer have any excuse for any fragment of slavery! As Paul the Apostle put it, “The one who Jesus has set free is free indeed!” Sure, at times I still retreat behind lines of separation. I hide from love and accountability and intimacy. But the truth of the matter is that I now live in a post-wall era. Any wall in my life is one I imagine and choose. I’m a free agent.
There’s a great ancient song in the Old Testament that relays this message and articulates my thanks for The freedom I’ve been granted. It’s Psalm 103. It begins: “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” And one of the benefits mentioned… “He redeems my life from the pit.” There it is. Said and done. Sealed and delivered. God has lifted me out of the prison of the pit of emptiness. He’s broken down the walls robbing me from opportunity and freedom. Liberty is a done deal. And my role now is simply, “Don’t forget it!” When I remember to say “Thank you, God, for setting me free,” I’m remembering that freedom is my present state.
“God, thank you that 20 years ago you delivered a miracle and empowered freedom-loving people to break down the Berlin Wall. Thank you for the courage this gives us to believe that walls in our lives can come down. Thank you too you have already accomplished the ‘blows’ to the biggest barrier – the span of hard rock that has separated us from you. Thank you that in Jesus you have already ‘redeemed our lives from the pit.’ Help us to remember what this cost you, and the benefits you deliver to us in the process. Help us now to appropriate the gift of freedom we have been given. Help us to nurture the relationships we’ve been granted and the tasks that give us meaning and advance your purposes in the world. God, we’re free! In Jesus was say ‘Thank you!’
Follow me on Twitter