where bridges go

Photo by Glen Alan Woods

Bridges are a segueway from one shore to another. They provide transit over streams, rivers and other assorted obstacles. The bridge in this photo is strictly for walking. It is located at Tryon Creek State Park in Portland, Oregon. It is called Beaver Bridge. The reason for the name is not difficult to imagine. Beavers work with great industry in the stream below to build constructions critical to their survival. They do not wait for other wildlife, or their human interlocutors to do the work for them.

I have long been interested in bridges because of what they represent: an opportunity to explore that which lies beyond as well as what lies beneath.

Some of you might be at an impasse in life and ministry. You are stuck. No bridge is in sight, or if it is, you are not sure whether to commit to crossing it. Part of you is curious, inspired, and not a little fearful. But part of you resorts to the reasonableness of remaining planted firmly right where you are now. Better the struggles you know now, than the struggles you cannot anticipate on the other side of that bridge, so the reasoning goes. Nevermind that the unanticipated happens on this side of the bridge as well. Try telling that to an entrenched naysayer who fears change above all else. That person prefers the change caused by others rather than the change caused by oneself. Ironic, isn’t it? This giving over of initiative to circumstances and outside influencers….

No bridge–physical or conceptual– offers absolute guarantees of happiness or safety. We who follow Jesus Christ believe that only Christ offers peace through the cross and resurrection. We may not always be happy in the worldly sense. But we do have opportunity to be happy–joyful might be a more apt word–in the biblical sense. Many have and will experience danger because of their stand for Christ. But we have peace. Even in crossing bridges which cannot guarantee comfort. Even in making decisions which begin varied chains of events we cannot control.

So, you stand at the edge of a critical bridge. What will you do? Will you wait and pray? Will you launch out? Will you turn away, looking for better or different opportunities? Will you build your own bridge by God’s grace according to his direction? Or will you wring your hands wishing that the perfect bridge with fully detailed markings and accompanying maps would be provided to you at your leisure and without any sweat from your brow?

Nothing of significance happens so easily.

I have missed opportunities in life because of specific failures to launch out, to risk, to put myself on the line. And when I have launched out, I have often failed anyway, but not always and not for all time. Like I said, there are no guarantees. But I am more interested in having no regrets when I stand before God to give an account of my decisions at the end of my days.

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