Check Point Charlie and Waiting on the LORD

Part of the former Berlin Wall

We were driving along in the dark of the early morning, along an excellent highway in Berlin, heading toward the airport.  Our driver, Stefan, showed up in plenty of time for our 3:30 am departure.  He was probably in his early 40s, friendly and stocky, and as I rode in the front seat of his mini van he told me he preferred working nights.  He had one more pickup that night, then home for bed.

“I’m a day sleeper,” he said, and smiled.  

He picked us up at the Crowne Plaza, where we had been staying a couple of extra days because of a pilot strike.  He asked about my life,  and I asked him about his. 

As we drove along the highway he said we were traveling the route of the Berlin Wall, and that where we were was once no-man’s land.  

The Wall fell in 1989; 33 years ago on this same route we might have been under deadly fire.  

Stefan said as he grew up in West Berlin he never thought he would see the Wall fall in his lifetime.  

During our stay we went to Checkpoint Charlie, the once-heavily guarded entryway between East and West Berlin.  While there a harsh reality, and a broken heart, settled upon me.  In the museum we saw and read about the  many desperate folk who tried so hard to escape to freedom: in hidden compartments in vehicles; in specially modified suitcases; with home-made scuba gear, and more.  After all the years of resisting Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, after waiting for and praying for the defeat of their own country, many saw a ray of hope come with the end of World War II, only to have the “Iron Curtain” descend upon them and see the ray darkened.

How did they wait?  What did they hope for?  How did they pray?  

****

When my friend Jay served his time in prison he told me he clung to Psalm 27, particularly the verses starting at verse 11:

Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path, because of my enemies.  Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.  I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait, I say, on  the LORD!  

Jay was in prison in the late 1980s, waiting those long months in jail to be released.  I think of others in prison now, waiting for their own release by serving their time, by pardon, or by death.  

I think of Stefan, growing up in a divided city and a no-mans land where you could be shot for seeking freedom, and where other young men were tasked with the shooting.

And I think of what seems to be a slow-moving God, seeping among divided loved ones, divided denominations, divided countries and leaders, with few seeking reconciliation and forgiveness.  

And I think of waiting as a form of trust, as a form of obedience, as an act of faith that God is at work in the world, and as we wait and watch we may see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  

Wait, I say, on the LORD.  

About Frank Richard Coats

Follower of Jesus, husband and family man, pastor, picker, writer, missioner with the Inspire Movement
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