Thirty years ago, on June 12, 1987, US President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate on the West side of the infamous Berlin Wall. Seated directly behind the President was an imposing body of foreign leadership, and behind them, a double-pane bullet proof shield. But, President Reagan was not intimidated when he made his historically bold challenge:
“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make, that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!“
Everyone knows those historic words. But there were some additional words that President Reagan included in his speech which often go overlooked.
To me, they are the most powerful words.
“… I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner;
‘This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.’
“Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.”
Faith, Truth, Freedom
As Mr. Reagan wisely stated, there are three things that destroy walls. Faith, Truth, and Freedom. We live in a world where walls are continually being erected. Walls of fear, walls of hate, walls of disbelief, lies and oppression, to name a few.
Some walls are built globally or nationally, some are built in our own homes, between spouses, families or social networks.
Naturally, the forces that build walls fight against anything that could tear those walls down. Thus, faith, truth and freedom are under continual attack.
We must begin with the truth.
TRUTH – A Sobering History
In the summer of 2016 I traveled with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to perform throughout Western Europe. Our first stop was Berlin, Germany where I had one of the most emotionally dramatic experiences of my tour. Early in the morning after our arrival we were taken by bus to view a portion of the historic Berlin Wall that had been preserved for educational purposes.
My experience of visiting The Wall was profoundly moving. Walking on the same ground where so many tears were shed, and so many lives were lost, had a sobering impact on me.
Many things become very clear when we immerse ourselves in the lessons of the past.
- This was a horrifying time in the history of our world.
- History repeats itself when we do not remember.
- Choosing to build a wall is not following God’s plan for his children.
- Living behind a wall – whether we are on the side being cut off from freedom, or the side denying freedom – is an epic tragedy for the human soul.
FAITH – The Power To Win
In the Biblical story of the Battle of Jericho, the Lord’s basic instruction to the Israelite leader Joshua was “I’ll fight – you follow.”
Consider the unique instructions God gave Joshua: For 6 days, take your people, walk around the city wall and blow your trumpets. On the 7th day, take your people, walk around the city wall, blow your trumpets, and then shout!
I’m sure Joshua was skeptical, but he obeyed. Then, the miracle happened. On the 7th day when Joshua and his people shouted, the great city wall collapsed, allowing them to conquer the city, and win the battle.
When the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down, it was a very emotional time for Germany, and for the world.
Finally, after years of oppression, waiting, hope and faith, the victory was won.
Only a few short hours after visiting the Berlin Wall museum, the Choir and Orchestra assembled in the beautiful Berlin Philharmonie for the first concert performance of our tour.
As I described in my Day 3 Tour post, we were prepared that Germans generally have a much more subdued response during concert performances, as compared to American audiences. So, we were not expecting such an emotional, overwhelming response from our audience.
Some of the loudest cheers of the night came after we performed “The Battle of Jericho.”
We could understand what deep significance this song could have for Berliners!
FREEDOM – Finding Peace
“…if you seek peace…tear down this wall!”
Living in the world means each of us will confront roadblocks and walls. These walls may be built by us personally, or created by someone else. Walls of addiction, crime, prejudice, grudges, anger, hatred, intolerance, fear… etc.
Other walls are placed in our path without warning or explanation. Walls of illness, injury, mental and physical challenges, wayward children, death of a loved one, unemployment, financial crises, difficult decisions, relentless worries… etc.
How can we endure these situations, break through these walls and find peace?
One thing is certain, we cannot do it alone. Our walls teach us to reach out for help from others, and from God. We must also determine how to use the power of faith, truth and freedom.
“This wall will fall…”
Some of our walls will fall quickly, but others will take more time, diligence, and patience as we learn to Let God fight, and we will follow. Do not fear. Believe in miracles. He has promised to be with us every step of the way.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever thou goes.
– Joshua 1:9