Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fairy Tale Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

   This fairy tale castle, perched high above the small town of Hohenswangau in Bavaria, southern Germany, has been the number one destination on my "bucket list" for a number of years.  Well, I happily check the castle off my list because I have now "been there, and joyously done it," and yes, I took this picture (and maybe a hundred more!) of the famous castle.

   Neuschwanstein is indeed a magical castle of fairy-tale beauty with a story that lacks the familiar "happily ever after" ending.  Young King Ludwig II began construction on his dream castle in 1869 at the age of 24 years.  When he died at the age of 40 years, the castle was still not completed.  On that day, work on the castle ceased and it remains pretty much as the king left it.  Alas, in spite of all his hopes and dreams and work, he only spent 172 days in his beloved home.

   Is there a spiritual spin to this tale of woe?  You betcha!  There are surely a number of messages we can glean from this whole castle on the cliff, etc.  This is the one I've chosen for today:  we've all heard the words from Robert Burns poem, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  The poem was written a hundred years before Ludwig's death, but the truth of the words is as relevant today as it was then.  It reminds me of a verse in Proverbs 19:21, "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel -- that will stand."

    Neither wealth, nor prestige, nor vision can supersede the will of God.  I don't know what the will of God was for the life of Ludwig, but it's pretty obvious it was not God's will for this castle to be enlarged any further.  This was one of four castles built by Ludwig in various stages of completion on the date of his untimely death.  This reminds me of a parable Christ told about a rich man who built many barns for his crops and goods, and planned to take his ease and enjoy life.  Jesus said, "But God said to him, 'Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'" Luke 12.

"Whose will those things be which you have provided?"  Well, in the case of this beautiful fairy tale castle -- it's now owned by the country of Germany, and well, I guess you could say, it belongs to all of us who step inside its lovely walls -- even if just for a moment.  In reality, everything we own upon this earth is just for a moment.  As scripture tells us, "Only what's done for Christ will last."

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