It was a gray, chilly morning with soft, intermittent rain falling, which cleared to a blustery, cold, sunny afternoon as we visited the ancient walled city of Chester in England. This place was settled by the Romans over 2000 years ago as an outpost in the British Isles.
The remains of a small Roman Legion fort are evident at the base of the ancient city wall. Across what is now a busy city street is the ruins of a Roman amphitheater where spectacles unfolded, including gladiators in life-and-death struggles to please the crowds.
In a Roman garden, rows of what are left of stone columns belie the splendor that these representatives of Rome carved out of this wilderness as it was in those days. It seems that their reputation as engineers and builders is certainly accurate, as we viewed the remains of their work these many centuries later.
In various waves of conflict, domination and settlement, different peoples conquered the region and left their mark, before fading from the pages of history.
The old city was enclosed by a defensive wall constructed in about 1300AD, possibly earlier. The high, thick stone wall – with towers placed at regular intervals along the wall – has a wide walkway behind the parapet. It is a marvel of engineering and a tribute to the stone masons' craft in that it has endured these many centuries. Along the way one can see differences in the type of stone and the methods of laying it, indicating repairs from the many battles it endured and the differences in building methods and skill levels over the centuries.
As we walked the ancient city wall, pausing to observe various historical sites from various vantage points, we were struck by the sense of history and the realization that each of the many generations that walked this wall, and who felt protected by its massive presence, all have passed away. The protection of the wall was not adequate to prevent their time on the scene, their way of life, their hopes and dreams, from coming to naught. Whether it was an armed conflict or the plague which ravaged the area, or lack of life's basic necessities, those who labored under the heavy burden of building this wall – and those who fought the battles on it – all perished.
They were real people with the same needs, hopes and desires for a good life; who had an inner hunger to know the purpose of human existence and questions about what happens when this life is ended. The hard physical evidence of their existence was all about us as we enjoyed our day in Chester, which is from the old English meaning "fortress." But they died not having the answers to life's questions.
Look around you today, wherever you may live. Your cities may seem permanent, your technology secure, your country's highly developed infrastructure a refuge. Your nation may have massive military defenses with modern weaponry to protect and defend its national interests. Or, so it seems.
Ancient Chester had its version of all these things. And yet it came to an end. So will our society and the things with which we are so familiar.
The plain message of the Bible, confirmed by the history of mankind, is that apart from God, mankind does not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). So, if you rely on defensive walls, real or figurative, for your defense and safety, you are in for bitter disappointment. Jesus Christ said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:33-34).
As you walk your wall, look for the only answers that bring peace of mind and genuine security, now and in the life to come. We have information that will assist you in seeking God's will for your life and it can be found free of charge at www.lcg.org.