The Great Wall – Lessons for Life


When visiting China with my family, it was a blessing and pleasure to be able to walk on the Great Wall of China on November 10, 2011. As one of the Seven Wonders of the medieval world, the Great Wall is not only magnificent in its splendor, but also meandering in its structure, stretching a little over 5500 miles, rightfully earning it the “longest man-made structure on earth” title. However, unbeknownst to many, the Great Wall is not a single long wall, but it is actually made up of many disconnected walls, built by various dynasties, as fortifications against invading armies. But because of its discontinuity, the Mongol invaders led by the one known as the Universal Ruler, Genghis Khan had no problem going around the wall and they subsequently conquered most of northern China until they were overthrown by the Ming dynasty.

As Reuben, our beloved five year old son, trekked the Great Wall from one watchtower to the next (approximately 2 kms) while my wife, Sangeetha waited on top of the starting tower in Badaling, I was amazed¬† by this feat of human engineering, but even more awestruck by the God who created and fashioned man, with the intellect to be capable of such superstructure achievements. Halfway through the walk, I tired and asked Reuben, if we should go back, to which he responded, that we must continue on our goal to reach the next tower. Reuben did not want to give up and his mission was to complete the course that we set out to. At one part of our journey, the slope was quite steep and as Reuben, inched his way down, holding on to the railing on the side, I could hear him say, “I am not afraid, God is with me, my dada is with me, I am not afraid.” I walked in front of him, backwards, down that slope, just to be sure that if he fell, I was going to be there to catch him. We eventually reached the next tower after about 45 minutes of walking up and down the stairs and slopes of the Great Wall and on our way back, I could see that Reuben was famished and fatigued. So I lifted him on my shoulders and walked until he regained some strength and then he would offer to walk, when he felt that I was tiring. My son, truly warmed my heart and this was indeed the highlight of my trip, to share nearly an hour and a half with my son, walking alongside and with him, through the trials and tests that the Great Wall could bring us. When we reached the tower from where we started, Reuben was rejoined with his loving mother and me with my beloved wife and all the tiredness and fatigue, seemed as just a vapor.

As I pondered of this spectacular and sensational experience, I began to wonder of its application to life and a few thoughts raised through my mind. First, just as the Great Wall separated China from invading kings, ‘sin’ is the great wall that separates us from the One True King of kings, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 59:2), but thanks be to God, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, past or present (No Great Wall), that can separate us from the Love of God, that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:35,38-39) because Jesus brought down this wall of sin and reconciled us to God, by his death in our stead (Romans 5:10) and his resurrection to reign. Second, the Great Wall is not impenetrable unlike the Only one who is impenetrable, who is God, our Creator, our fortress (in other words – THE Great Wall) around us (Psalm 18:2).¬† Third, my son taught me that we must be like one on a mission, running the race of life for God with an aim to complete it, fighting to win and not as one beating the air (1 Corinthians 9:24,26). Fourth, when we go through the steep slopes, including the valley of the shadow of death, we need not be afraid, for God is with us (Psalm 23:4). He goes in front of us, with his eyes on us, so that he can catch us, if we slip. My son with his words of overcoming fear was teaching me to “Trust in God” irrespective of how steep the slopes of life seem. Fifth, when we tire with our efforts, and are famished and fatigued, God happily puts on us his shoulders and carries us through the thick and thin of all that comes our way, as does a Good Shepherd, his sheep (Luke 15:4-6). Finally, when our journey on earth is done, our reunion with our loved ones who have gone ahead of us, and with The One who first loved us (Jesus Christ) would make the journey of life seem as if it was but a vapor (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

P.S: Click on the pictures to see a larger version. The first picture is a picture of the family at the starting tower. The second picture is the picture of Reuben walking down a slope in the Great Wall. The third picture is a picture of the section of the wall that Reuben and I trekked (from Watchtower 1 to Watchtower 2). This picture was taken from Watchtower 2.

Isaiah 59:2 (KJV)
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Romans 8:35, 38-39 (KJV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:10 (KJV)
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Psalm 18:2 (KJV)
2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

1 Corinthians 9:24, 26 (KJV)
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

Psalm 23:4 (KJV)
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Luke 15:4-6 (KJV)
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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