My An Arkie's Faith column from the July 20, 2022, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
The Lufthansa airplane landed on the wide strip of tarmac, wheels touching down with a slight bounce. Almost twenty-four hours ago, Daddy and I had climbed into his little Prius and headed for the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Now we were finally on the ground in Berlin, Germany. After getting our luggage, we made our way to the train station inside the airport. My heart sank as I tried to figure out the train system. I knew I needed to go to Alexanderplatz station, but I couldn't find it listed on any signs.
The train station had two platforms with trains going in different directions. I tried reading the signs with the help of the translation app on my phone, but I couldn't figure out which train to get on. There was an automated kiosk to buy tickets, but even with the English option, it wasn't clear to me. There was no one there to help, so I decided to leave the train station and return to the airport to find someone who could help. I found three airport employees on a break and asked if anyone spoke English. One man did, and he told me which train to get to Alexanderplatz.
We boarded the train, and around forty minutes later, we pulled into the Alexanderplatz station. Exiting the train station, we saw our hotel, Park Place Inn, dominating the skyscape. As the tallest building in Berlin, it towers over all the other buildings in the area. After checking in, we made our way to our room on the 27th floor. We had been traveling for over twenty-four hours and were exhausted. I left Daddy in the room to rest, but even though I was tired, I felt an adrenaline rush from being in a European city for the first time. I was eager to explore.
I walked out the front of the hotel into Alexanderplatz. In German, Platz refers to a public square. The square was named for the Russian Tsar Alexander I when he visited in 1805. There a swell of humanity spread out in front of me. The people flowed like rivers, never stopping for obstacles but swirling around them. I was hungry, so the first thing I did was look for something to eat. I saw a small shop and went inside. In a display case, I saw a sign that said, Rhubarb Streusel. I stepped up to the counter and pointed at the streusel. After making my first purchase with my newly acquired euros, I sat on a bench and ate my streusel, savoring every bite.
As I walked around the square taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, I saw an old church that seemed out of place in this area of modern shops. I stopped to take photos of the beautiful building and noticed someone enter through a side door. I was curious to see inside the church, so I gingerly opened the door. There was a small sign beside the door. Using my translate app, I learned that the sign said, "welcome, please be quiet and respectful." I walked through the tiny vestibule into the church and was astonished by the beauty.
A brochure I had picked up on my way inside told me that construction of Marienkirche began around 1270 and was completed early in the 14th century. It is one of Berlin's few remaining buildings that date to the Middle Ages. Quietly slipping into a pew, I thought of all the worshippers who have prayed to God here and the plagues, wars, fires, and political strife they had endured. Lighting a candle, I prayed for peace.
I walked around the church, feeling like I was in a museum. On the walls of the church hang many works of art. My brochure told me that some of the works are original to the church, but many were salvaged from other churches throughout the city that sustained damage during the Second World War. The pipe organ built in the 1720s dominates the rear of the church. It is decorated with bas-reliefs of John the Baptist and personifications of Faith, Hope, and Love
As I sat in this beautiful old church on my first day in Europe, I thought about all the history this church had witnessed in the last 750 years. I imagined God's word read from the ornate alabaster pulpit. "Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth." Psalm 96:9 (NKJV)
A story I had read a few weeks ago came to my mind. A traveler back in the Middle Ages saw a group of workers. They were chipping away at a pile of rocks. He asked one man what he was doing, and the man said, "I am breaking up rocks." He then asked a second man what his work was, and the man replied, "I am building a cathedral." Both men were doing the same job, but one saw his job as just some rock chipping. The other saw the bigger picture and felt he was a part of something important.
Everything we do in life is not always fun or exciting. Sometimes our job is tedious, but it needs to be done. You might have one of those "dirty jobs" Mike Rowe talks about. Maybe you have a job that people don't think is important, but God needs someone in that role.
In Luke 16:10 (GNT), Jesus says, "Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones." God cares about minor details of our lives because He knows they become essential details when we handle them correctly. Our small decisions, mindsets, habits, and prayers add up to make a positive life.
Gentle Reader, sometimes what we do might seem equivalent to chipping away at a pile of rocks. But God has asked us to faithfully represent Jesus in everything we do, even the mundane. We are not just his representatives when we work on big projects. In Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT), Paul wrote, "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." Whatever you do, you are building a cathedral.