The Great Wall of China is a feat of magnificent proportion It boggles my mind to consider what it took to build that wall. Built over 3,000 years ago the wall stretches over 13,000 miles over mountainous terrain. I have had the privilege of walking its walls twice.
If the wall were a straight line, either slightly ascending, descending, or flat, it would still be an astounding creation, but not very interesting. What is mind-blowing is how it winds in every direction, at times, even doubling back on itself. Parts of the wall are so steep as to almost require crawling. At other times, the walk is leisurely.
Our life is like that wall, though we want to make it otherwise. Most people prefer a straight walk. Some would like it flat or a little downhill all the way, maybe even preferring one of those moving walkways like you find at the airport. Others want a constant challenge. Life is viewed as a competition with winners and losers.
The truth is no matter what we try to make the wall, it is a winding journey. Stretches take our breath away with its beauty. Other expanses never seem to end their upward grind.
I see my life differently now than when I was younger striving to win the competition. Joy and sadness are companions, not enemies. Life is not a competition, but an experience. Beauty lies in the newness and in the variety – and in sharing the walk. In every picture that I see of the Great Wall, others journey along the wall also. We are all on a pilgrimage, filled with detours and wrong turns, ascents and descents, hardships and blessings.
At no place along the Great Wall can you see more than a few miles. Occasionally, the wall disappears over a ridge and then reappears again in the far distance. All of this mirrors life. I faintly see the distant future, but the view is hazy with the atmosphere clouding the image.
My hope is to learn to accept, even embrace the journey. As I look back, I cannot believe the miles I have traveled. Many seemed impossible to survive. I see others walking similar excruciating paths. I look ahead and see people ahead of me, close to the most distant ridge where my view of the wall disappears. But I know that the wall does not end there. I believe the most beautiful part of the journey is on the other side of the ridge. This part of the winding journey is preparing me in some way that I do not understand for what is on the other side.
For now, I want to enjoy the twists and turns, the climbs, and the downhills. Some days it will rain, and some days the sun will warm the way. The wall is glorious. I am walking it with those I love. By God’s grace, I will be ready when the distant ridge appears, knowing the Builder of the wall is the Builder of a wondrous city just on the other side, where pain and sickness and tears are no more.