Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our Backs to the Wall

Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary.
Be strong and do the work. 

-- 1 Chronicles 28:10

About a century after the Romans began building the Appian Way (their remarkable paved highway), construction began in another part of the world on the world's largest human-made structure. The Great Wall of China, which today stretches across Asia, was built to protect the Chinese dynasties against invading semi-nomadic people known to cross into the land and steal just about anything of value.

The wall's completion would be an incredible engineering feat even today. So it's easy to imagine why transporting large amounts of building materials for the wall was essentially impossible in those days before modern backhoes, cranes and excavators. The solution was to rely on locally-accessed materials such as stone hewn from the land's mountainous regions. In some remote desert areas with few available building materials, the Great Wall was formed with soil pressed between wood, which was bound with woven mats.

Construction and repairs on the wall continued into the 1600s. And the final result was a 4,000-mile-long monstrosity that--at its peak--was guarded by more than 1 million soldiers. Historians estimate that 2-3 million workers died over the centuries of construction and repair. And was it worth the immense effort? For the most part...yes. Indeed, The Great Wall of China generally succeeded in repelling invaders. However, in 1644, the Manchus crossed through (but not over) the massive barrier when a Ming border general--who disliked the ruling Shun Dynasty--simply opened the wall's gates. The capital city of Beijing soon fell into the enemy's hands.

There's an old Chinese proverb that says a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Likewise, the Great Wall of China began with the laying of a single brick or piece of stone. For Christ-followers, building--and particularly rebuilding--begins with a single earnest prayer. And there's no need for the building or reconstruction to involve an enormous physical structure. Instead, it can involve a relationship, a church body...or even a vision for doing something great in God's name.

In all cases, prayer should be our first response rather than the last resort. But be forewarned. If we plan to ask God, we must be ready to act. For instance, if we ask Him for help with our ruined personal finances, we must be willing to make a viable household budget and cut our spending.

We all have something in our lives to build or repair. So let's boldly go to God in prayer. And not because of our own qualifications--but for what He has done and for what He can--and will--do.

"Is the Lord's arm too short?" God once asked Moses centuries ago...and asks Christ-followers today. "Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you."

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