today’s random reflections

I cannot count the stars, they are far too numerous – but I know the One who calls them each by name.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4)

I can’t escape life’s storms – but I know the One who calms their chaos.

“He (Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39)

I often (being directionally challenged) don’t know the way – but I know the One who IS The Way.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)

I often don’t know which path to take – but I have His promise that if I will,

“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge Him,” that “He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I don’t know what tomorrow holds in store for me – but I know the One who holds tomorrow and is not surprised by what it will bring.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” (Isaiah 46:10)

I don’t have sufficient wisdom and knowledge to meet the challenges I face every day – but I know the One who has all wisdom and knowledge.

“so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)

Sometimes, like Job, I don’t know where God is – but I know that God always knows where I am. I am never lost to Him.

“But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10)

Basically, there is not much I know for certain. But there is this one thing –

” . . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

and knowing this one thing is everything –

sincerely, Grace Day

chasm crossing

No, this is not an Olympic sport. It is far too dangerous, too deadly to be a sport. Chasm crossing is a high stakes job that not many will undertake, although there is no shortage of chasms needing to be crossed, just a shortage of people willing to cross them. (or to at least attempt to cross them) And that’s understandable, given the risks involved, the low rate of success and the skill set necessary to be a chasm crosser. In chasm crossing, the risks are great but the rewards are even greater if one succeeds.

I think the job description that comes closest to that of a chasm crosser, is that of a tight rope walker in the circus – if they are working without nets. Chasms don’t come with nets. Too bad, because the divide is so deep, that if the connection across the chasm, be it bridge or tightrope, fails, then the crosser falls into the abyss and is lost forever. This could explain why not many choose to be chasm crossers or even builders of bridges across life’s many chasms. However, those attempting to cross to the other side need a secure connection on which to cross over.

How did life become so chasm filled anyway? It probably started with the cracks common to everyday life – those small fissures formed when there is freezing and thawing as the seasons come and go. Those cracks left unattended, become crevices of ever-growing width and depth, eventually becoming today’s chasms. These chasms are formidably deep and equally daunting in width, deterring all but the bravest chasm crossers to even consider bridging the gap to the other side. Chasms continue to gain depth and width with the years until eventually those on each side lose sight of the other and all communication ceases, leaving a silence as deep as the chasm itself.

There is a story about the deepest chasm of all in Luke 16. It is the story of a very rich man and a beggar named Lazarus, who spent his life at the rich man’s gate begging for crumbs from the rich man’s table. After they both died this is what happened next, “The rich man . . . In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, . . . ‘send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ ” Abraham replied that he couldn’t send Lazarus to the rich man saying, “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” Then the rich man asked, ” ‘I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment. . . . if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He (Abraham) said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:23-31)

I guess if there are chasms I desire to cross in this life, I had better be crossing them now while I still have the chance because the chasm that separates for eternity is an uncrossable one. The thing is, my current chasms seem uncrossable, but they are not. That is a lie of my enemy. It may take courage and perseverance, it may not be easy, but “with God all things are possible” – even chasm crossing. What could possibly span such a wide separation and fill in such a deep divide? Is there a tightrope strong enough or what materials could build a bridge capable of carrying me safely across the chasm? I find the answer in Ephesians 3:17-18 –

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Love, Christ’s love, that’s the connection strong enough to carry me across the chasm. In fact, it was God’s love for me and for you, that brought Jesus here to earth, spanning the chasms of time and of space and of our sinful rejection of our Creator – the chasm between the physical and the spiritual, between the finite and the infinite, between earth and heaven, between today and eternity. Jesus’s love for us crossed all those uncrossable chasms and brought Him here where He shared meals with His disciples and walked miles in our human shoes. (both literally and figuratively, remember – they traveled mostly on foot in those days)

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Jesus crossed the widest, deepest chasms to come here and die in my place, so that I could spend eternity with Him. His love is wide enough and deep enough to see me across all the chasms I must conquer as I find my way to Him and to all those He would send me to, who seem unreachable due to the size of the chasm between us. But Jesus is the Master chasm crosser, I just have to follow in His footsteps across the divide. He will not let my foot slip. He will make a way.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“. . . deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

being a Christ follower somedays requires being a chasm crosser –

sincerely, Grace Day

the job of a hand holder

I think that’s a pretty important job – the job of a hand holder, that is. It’s an old job too. By that I mean it’s been around for centuries. Aaron and Hur were hand holders once upon a time, and it changed the course of history. Technically, they were more like hand lifters, but let me explain by telling you the story. I read the account of what happened in Exodus 17. The Amalekites had attacked the Israelites and in response Moses sent Joshua and his army out to fight them. Our story continues,

“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. . . . Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, ‘For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.’ ” (Exodus 17:10-16)

“Aaron and Hur held his hands up” – so they both held and lifted Moses’s hands when Moses became too weak to keep his hands raised on his own. Aaron and Hur literally came along side Moses in his time of need. They were hand-holders, they were hand-lifters – they stayed at their posts with him until sunset. They stayed until the battle was won. This is the job of a hand-holder – to come alongside, to stay with, holding and lifting up the person who has the need. In this story, it was Moses.

In my story, it is friends, family, co-workers, neighbors or even strangers who need a hand-holder, and it is me who needs someone to hold and to lift my hands. Sometimes I have the job of the hand-holder, sometimes I am the one whose hands are held until the battle is won or the storm passes.

The lifting up of hands to God is not only significant in this story, I see it as something necessary for me to do every day. Throughout the Bible I read about others who lifted their hands to God, sometimes in praise, sometimes in petition. Psalm 134:2 tells me to –

“Lift up my hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.” Psalm 119:48 says,

“I lift up my hands to Your commands, which I love, and I meditate on Your decrees.” King David says in Psalm 63:4, these words to God,

“I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.”

I lift up my hands when I am praising Him, and I also lift my hands to God when I am crying out to Him in my pain or out of my desperate need. In Lamentations, I find these commands to lift up my hands to God. First in Lamentations 3:41 –

“Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven,” and then in Lamentations 2:19 –

“Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” and in Psalms –

“Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place.” (Psalm 28:2) and –

“May my prayer be set before You like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)

Then there come those times when, like Moses, I am too weary to lift up my hands to God, and He sends hand-holders, like Aaron and Hur, to come alongside me and hold up my hands. How grateful I am for those that do the job of a hand holder. What joy I feel when I get to do the job of a hand holder!

You may be wondering at this moment, just what this job looks like today. Am I on a hill somewhere, holding up someone’s hands as they cry out to God? Or am I crying out to God on their behalf? Now you’re getting close. The job of a hand holder today looks like prayer – because it is prayer. It is a special kind of prayer called intercession. Jesus is doing this very thing for me and for you, dear readers, twenty-four/seven as He sits at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus is doing the job of hand holder for me, so that I can do that job for anyone and everyone He brings to me, in order that I might come alongside of them and hold up their hands to God, just as Aaron and Hur did for Moses. When I am “on the job”, I might be physically present with my Moses of the moment, praying with them and for them. But most of my work as a hand-holder/lifter is done in secret, in the closet, the prayer closet. It is there, where, alone with my Heavenly Father, I lift up those I have been given to my Heavenly Father in prayer. And like Aaron and Hur, I keep lifting them up to the Father, for as long as it takes – until the storm passes, the battle is won, or until they regain their strength and are able to raise their hands on their own to God in praise and petition.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6)

Talk about your remote work situation. Hand-holders have been working from home for years. And our assignments range from close family members to people we have never met to even our enemies. (that’s right, we are told to pray for or lift up our enemies to God – no getting around it) The physical battle between the Israelites the Amalekites was won that day by the Israelites because the hand-holders answered God’s call and did the job God asked them to do.

Today we are fighting spiritual battles and the need for hand-holders is huge. These are life and death battles, similar to the one Moses was watching over – but with one distinct difference. The physical battle brings with it the danger of physical death. But the spiritual battle is a fight for the eternal soul of every participant – so the stakes are much higher. Therefore, the call for us to be hand-holders for one another as we are all fighting spiritual battles, is an urgent call, a call that takes priority over everything else.

The job of a hand-holder is a sacred calling from God. Lord, strengthen me for the task, that I might hold up the hands of the weary to You in prayer, like Moses’s friends did for him, that his hands would be continually raised in acknowledgement of You as Sovereign God of all the universe. I lift my hands to You, even as I lift up to You in prayer all those for whom You call me to make intercession.

“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8)

“The mountains saw You and quaked; the downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, it lifted high its hands.” (Habakkuk 3:10)

sincerely, Grace Day

the last leg

If life is a journey or a race, then eventually we arrive at the “last leg” of that journey. And ironically, as any runner would tell you, by the time we get to the “last leg” of our race, we are usually on our “last legs” due to over exertion and fatigue setting in. So we end up running the last leg of our race literally on our last legs.

Now runners usually save something back for the end of the race, don’t they? They want to be able to finish strong. They want to be able to sprint that last leg of their race. But in life’s race how do we run our last leg of the race? In our culture we call the last leg retirement, a time when we are supposed to rest and take it easy. Seems kind of the opposite of sprinting the last leg in order to finish well. Paul talks about how I should run this life race I have been given in Philippians 3:12-14, when he says –

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,” (in other words, my race isn’t over yet, I’m not at the finish line) “but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

“pressing on, straining” this sounds like a runner sprinting toward the finish line of life to me. Why is the runner sprinting? “to win the prize” and because “he has been called” – he has been called to run the race well – I have been called to run this race well – Paul says this is the goal, to run well, to give it my all. I read in Hebrews 12:1-2,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So running this race will require me to persevere and I may need to lighten my load as I go, throwing off anything that keeps me from running well, anything that would keep me from sprinting as I run the last leg of my race. Runners sprint because they are eager to cross the finish line and obtain the promised reward that awaits them. The closer they get to the goal, the faster and harder they run.

Ironic that when we get to the last leg of our life’s race, we are physically at our weakest just when it is time to sprint. And there may be many runners who are reluctant to keep going, many who want to turn back, many who drag their feet rather than sprint to the finish line. Why? Could it be they don’t want to cross the finish line, don’t want the race to be over, thinking nothing awaits them on the other side of the finish line? But Paul believed something wonderful awaited him, “the prize for which God was calling him heavenward.” In fact in 1 Corinthians 2:9 I read,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

I feel like I started this race at a crawl, literally. I soon learned to stand, then to walk, and then to run. But I didn’t always want to run. There is much along life’s race path that is alluring if not downright arresting. There is always something to distract and to divert me from moving forward. Then there are the burdens and the baggage I accumulate over the years, making my progress along the race route slower, more painful and more difficult. No wonder I sometimes come to a complete standstill, but even that doesn’t provide me the rest I desire. I guess that’s why perseverance is so necessary, without it I will never finish the race and receive the prize God gives to those who remain faithful and finish the race.

On the first leg of the race, when I first began, time passed slowly. I took my time, jogging leisurely, or even walking, often looking to the right and to the left. (there is much to distract) Any coach will tell the runner – “don’t look around, it will slow your progress. Keep your eyes focused forward.” I need to keep my eyes “fixed on Jesus” like the instruction in Hebrews says. Now time passes much too quickly and I find myself picking up the pace so as to dedicate myself to what remains of the “race marked out for me.”

As I enter this last leg of my race, I call to mind the instruction to “throw off everything that hinders me” even as I feel the overwhelming desire to sprint all out on this last leg of my life’s race. Suddenly nothing else seems to matter but Christ’s call to run this race well. I realize I am going to have to “cast all my cares upon Him” if I am going to be able to run well. These burdens are too heavy for me to carry, but Jesus has offered to take them from me and carry them for me. I need to give them up to Him. It’s called surrender.

What else hinders me? Unforgiveness, fear, pride, doubt, selfishness, old wounds that haven’t healed – I am told to throw them all off so that I can run this race with single-minded dedication, eyes fixed on Jesus. Funny, even as my body is wearing out, I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind, my heart is being cleansed, healed and strengthened and my spirit is being renewed and made right. It is as if I am receiving a new heart and a new spirit as I run the last leg of this earthly race. (Romans 12:2, Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 18:31)

It is as if old desires and dreams have given way to the promise of what awaits at the finish line and I want nothing more than to sprint all out, arms pumping, heart pounding, feet pushing forward in wholehearted pursuit of the calling I have been given to finish well. As I run (sprint) this last leg of my race through all kinds of conditions – stormy weather, darkness, rocky roads, enemy attacks, jeers of the crowd, betrayal, deceptive road signs, injury, pain and loss, these words of Paul compel me to persevere –

” . . . the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Every runner knows the last leg of the race is crucial to the race’s outcome. Somedays I can barely put one foot in front of the other and yet, in my heart, mind and spirit I am sprinting all out toward that finish line, these words keeping me company with every step and stride I take –

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

sprinting my last leg of this race with faith, hope, courage and perseverance – eyes on Jesus at all times –

sincerely, Grace Day

a bridge too far

As I continue thinking about bridges, it is inevitable that eventually my thoughts would turn to that most elusive and daunting of all bridges – the bridge that is a bridge too far. This expression came about during WWII and endures to this present day. A bridge too far is the long shot, the “against all odds” coming true, the dream realized, the impossible accomplished. As one who always cheers for the underdog and believes in the light even when it is darkest, I am a big fan of the bridge too far.

Crossing this particular bridge, however, takes extraordinary amounts of courage and of faith. The bridge may not appear to be strong enough to support me, so there is risk involved in trusting a bridge too far. My destination isn’t visible from the bridge’s beginning, again I have to trust the bridge will take me where I want to go. I have to step out onto the bridge too far in faith.

I have to step out onto a precarious structure, high above something, maybe rushing water, maybe a rocky ravine, maybe a painful past; while I feel the motion with every step, as suspension bridges will move with the wind and with the weight of my every footfall. How do I know it is a suspension bridge? What other kind of a bridge would a bridge too far be but a suspension bridge?

A bridge too far connects what is with what could be, current reality with future dreams, past failure with future success, impossibility with limitless possibilities, – these are the destinations of a bridge too far, these are places I want to go. But I have to step onto the bridge and continue to put one foot in front of the other. I have to have faith that this bridge connects me to something good, if I will just move forward and not turn back. The promise of a bridge too far reminds me of the promise in Ephesians 3:20 which says,

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we (I) ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (me),”

Still, when I look at the world today, I feel so many things are a bridge too far for me and I wonder if maybe others feel the same way. I read these words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44,

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

and I think to myself, “that is definitely a bridge too far for me, it is too hard and not even possible.” Then I recall Jesus’s words in Matthew 19:26,

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

God makes my bridge too far possible! I just have to be willing to walk across the bridge to what is waiting for me on the other side. Forgiveness, restored relationships, healed hurts, peace, joy – all things that seem a bridge too far are brought near as I follow Jesus across the bridge too far.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

If I have the courage and the faith, I can cross all my bridges too far. In fact, just as Paul asked in Romans, I also ask,

“Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

My knowing, being loved by and having a relationship with the Creator of the universe may seem a bridge too far for me, but it is not a bridge too far for me or for you – because nothing is a bridge too far for God. He will see us safely across the bridge into His loving embrace. Just as Romans says, “not anything in all creation will separate us from God’s love for us, which He has shown us by sending Jesus.” God has built and keeps in good repair the bridge too far. I just have to trust Him and take the connection He has provided for me. His call is constant and unchanging,

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

sincerely, Grace Day

a bridge to the past

I hadn’t thought of it in years, but this bridge prompt brought with it memories of a very special bridge from my childhood years. Turns out bridges span more than just physical distance – bridges also span time. Bridges connect the past with the present. At least that’s what a very special covered bridge does for me. Other bridges are also connectors to past eras in history.

Such is the case with the Brooklyn Bridge in a favorite movie of mine, “Kate and Leopold.” The heroine in this movie is living in modern day New York City but falls in love with a time-traveling English duke from the 1800’s. The connection between his time in history and hers? You guessed it – the Brooklyn Bridge! This makes perfect sense when you consider that the Brooklyn Bridge was built in the late 1800’s, with construction beginning in 1869 and finishing in May of 1883. It took fourteen years to build this bridge – a bridge which stands to this day – reminding me that bridging the gap and creating connections always takes time, especially if the bridge is going to stand the test of time.

Which brings me to my story of a bridge that stood the test of time and of weather for more than a century. This bridge was built in 1868 to span the East Fork of the White River in southern Indiana. As a small child, for an adventure, my grandparents would drive across this bridge with me in the back seat, totally terrified and totally delighted at the same time. Why? This was no ordinary bridge. This was a covered bridge – a long, dark, creaking, echoing, mysterious, magical bridge spanning a river I couldn’t see, once our car entered the long tunnel with the only light coming from a very distant point up ahead.

I could hear the water below but I couldn’t see it. We drove slowly and I watched closely out my window, waiting for the one exception to this totally enclosed experience – “the peephole.” That was my name for a small section of missing boards from the side wall of this covered bridge, which provided my only glimpse of the river beneath us. I always waited expectantly, as I did not want to miss the peephole and the short-lived view it provided me of the outside world.

After what seemed a lengthy time in the dark tunnel of the bridge, we would emerge out into the sunlight on the other side and I would wait eagerly for the return trip, when we would again have to cross the covered bridge. (this time the peephole would be on the other side, but I was prepared for that and sat on the other side of the back seat) I did not want to miss the peephole, but there was little danger of that because we always drove so slowly across this century old bridge, with every timber of its floor creaking and cracking, echoing long and loud in the space the roof and sides covered so carefully and so completely.

Such are my childhood memories of the Bells Ford Covered Bridge in Jackson County, Indiana. This bridge is no longer there. I wish I had gone back to visit this old covered bridge before she was taken away for good. First, they made a road around her, when she could no longer support traffic, then a storm took her out for good. My only memories of her are the memories of a child. Maybe it’s better that way – that I remember her as the magnificent, mysterious, magical structure that she was, than to see her in her days of demise and disuse, no longer useful, no longer needed.

However, that covered bridge still serves as a connection for me – a connection to my childhood and to memories of my grandparents and those exciting trips we took across the covered bridge. I always wondered, why cover a bridge? Now I know the answer, which is, to increase their lifespan. An uncovered wooden bridge lasted about twenty years. A covered bridge could last one hundred years or more, which proved to be true – hence my childhood covered bridge experience.

Something interesting I discovered about my childhood bridge is that at one time, it was a toll bridge. Fees ranged from thirty cents for a six-horse vehicle to three cents for a single horseman or a single footman. Cattle and horses were three cents each, while hogs and sheep were charged at the rate of one and one-half cents each. Safe passage over the river came with a cost. But before the turn of the century, the tolls were abolished and travel across the Bells Ford Covered Bridge became free for everyone – people and animals alike.

That just seems right, doesn’t it? After all, a bridge’s sole purpose is to provide safe passage, connection between two places, to stand in the gap – or more accurately, to lay down over the gap in order to make a way where there was no way previously. That’s what bridges do. They make a way.

That’s what Jesus did for me and for you when He came here. He made a way for us to be connected to our Creator, God, by laying down His life, thus becoming our bridge to God. And Jesus already paid my toll and your toll, so we are guaranteed safe passage and it’s free. (but I already wrote about that in post “the burning and building of bridges”)

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom (paid our toll to cross the bridge) for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

sincerely, Grace Day

the burning and building of bridges

Seems like the world is made up of bridge builders and bridge burners. The question is – which one am I? As I look back over my life, I realize that I am and have been both a burner and a builder, depending on my bent at the time. Bridge builders make the world a better place, one bridge at a time, no doubt about it. Bridges provide the connections we need to get us from point A to point B. Bridges are both beautiful and purposeful at the same time. Bridges don’t exist just to be admired, they serve a vital purpose in providing us passage to get us where we want to go. Bridges keep us connected. Without bridges, obstacles like rivers, ravines, canyons and chasms keep us separated from each other.

Historically, people have become bridge builders when they desired a way to connect to other people. Likewise, people have become bridge burners when they no longer desire that connection, perhaps because friends have turned into foes and burning the bridge protects them from the advances of their enemy. With the bridge gone, the enemy now has no easy way to gain access to them.

So why would I be a burner of bridges? Why would I burn my bridges? – bridges I have built over time – some taking me years to complete. Maybe it was fiery words that burned away some of my bridges, the bridges that connect me to those I love. Then my lack of use with its corresponding neglect led to the demise of other bridges. These bridges, I didn’t actually burn, they simply decayed and deteriorated when I stopped using them, when I stopped taking care of them. Now these bridges are broken and in need of repair. They can no longer provide the connection they once did, leaving me isolated, without a way to bridge the gap.

Interesting that “bridge” is both a noun and a verb. My purpose in building bridges is to bridge whatever distance separates me from others by providing a connection between us. If I want my bridges to be strong enough to stand the test of time, my choice of building materials will matter. I find that compassion, acceptance and empathy are excellent building materials for bridges. They provide a strong foundation to which I can apply love, grace and forgiveness. These materials ensure my bridges will be able to weather life’s storms, keeping my connections intact over the years.

As a former bridge burner, I have learned that a combination of inattention over which the fuel of unkind actions is poured, needs only the match of harsh, hateful words to set the bridge ablaze. The burning of that bridge will be as quick as it is complete. As a bridge builder however, I have learned that what took only moments to burn down, will take maybe my lifetime to build back up. Still, bridge building seems a worthy calling – one worth pursuing wholeheartedly. I can think of no better way to spend my time than doing the work of building bridges. We all need bridges. And the world right now seems to have an abundance of bridge burners. Consequently, the need for bridge builders is big – we are all desperate for the connections bridges bring into our lives.

As a bridge builder, I will use only the best materials for the bridges I am building and for those bridges I am in the process of restoring. I find love builds the strongest bridges, especially when that love contains large amounts of self-sacrifice. Then the bridge is virtually indestructible. Forgiveness is the most important building material needed, when I attempt to rebuild the bridges of trust that were broken by betrayal.

Most bridge builders work from a model, a design, so they know what to do and how to do it. I am no different. I need a model to follow if I am to be a successful builder of bridges. Fortunately for me, my Heavenly Father has provided the perfect model for bridge building. He had to make a way where there was no way – which required a very special kind of a bridge. A bridge was needed that would span the greatest chasm ever created. This is the chasm between God and mankind that was created when Eve made her disastrous decision in the garden so long ago. Eve’s decision to listen to the serpent, to disobey her Creator, destroyed the perfect connection between God and those He had created in His own image. This left a deep divide separating us from our Creator God.

A bridge would have to be built, if the connection was to be restored to what it was before. But this was now an insurmountable distance between God and man. It is the distance between a holy God and sinful men. The distance between holiness and sinfulness is infinite, as is the distance between good and evil, light and darkness, eternity and temporality. It would require a very special bridge to bridge this gap, to bridge this chasm of infinite proportions between God and man.

Jesus is that bridge between God and you and me. Jesus is love. He is full of compassion, understanding, acceptance, empathy, grace and forgiveness – all things necessary to build a strong, durable bridge. The love of Jesus for you and for me is that self-sacrificing love necessary to build the bridge that is our only way back to relationship with our Creator.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

“The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.” (John 10:17-18)

Jesus is the bridge, the eternal bridge that is our only connection to our Creator. Jesus told us as much when He said,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

This bridge, given to us by God, not only stands the test of time – it bridges time – connecting our now with God’s forever. Jesus both spans and transcends time and space, connecting our finiteness to God’s infinity. There was no bridge long enough nor strong enough to bridge the gap between our sin and God’s holiness, so Jesus laid down His life to become the bridge for us across the chasm our sin caused.

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15)

Christ is the mediator, the bridge connecting us back to our Creator, once again. Jesus alone provides us safe passage on our journey to connect with our Heavenly Father. God is the ultimate bridge builder, and Jesus is the bridge that bridges the unbridgeable chasm for all eternity. God uses the time-tested materials of self-sacrificing love and forgiveness to build and maintain this bridge, this infinite bridge connecting heaven and earth.

If I desire to be a bridge builder in this life, I would do well to build my bridges out of the same materials God uses – compassion, empathy, acceptance, understanding, grace, unconditional, self-sacrificing love and forgiveness – always forgiveness. These are the building blocks of successful bridges. My desire is to be a builder of bridges, creating connections across the deep divisions that keep us isolated and alone, because God created us for community and community requires connection. You and I need bridges in our lives!

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)

sincerely, Grace Day

the legacy of loneliness

Lord, how painful is my loneliness! Yet, how precious is this loneliness when it leads me to You! When loneliness lures me to seek You, moves me to let You in, entreats me to spend time with You – pushes me to pursue You in place of other pleasures – teaches me to look to You for all I lack -to let Your comforting Presence ease my pain – to feel the joy that all creation knows in Your Presence -this is the legacy my loneliness leaves to me – Your sustaining Presence filling all my empty spaces to overflowing with peace, purpose, healing, hope, joy, love – all gifts Your Presence freely gives – leaving me full to overflowing with all Your good gifts, as I realize there is no longer room for loneliness while You abide with me, making Your home where my loneliness once lived . . .

” . . . You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25)

“God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing;” (Psalm 68:6)

Loneliness is a dark prison – thank You, Lord, for the light of Your Presence which sets me free from loneliness’s isolating grip –

sincerely, Grace Day

prayer for today – a bridge

Lord, make me a bridge. Bridges get walked on – that is their sole purpose. Let people walk on me, walk across me to get to You. And Lord, forgive me for those times when I’m a barrier instead of a bridge, for those times when I keep people from You and block their view of You, instead of providing safe passage, providing a connection over whatever chasms separate people from Your love for them.

What joy to be a bridge used for Your good purposes! I could want nothing more than this highest of lowly callings – to lay down rather than to stand up tall and unmovable. Yes, please Lord, let me be a bridge again today. Let me be Your bridge, a bridge for You, a bridge to You. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

sincerely, Grace Day

divide and conquer

I think that’s been a military strategy for centuries – divide and conquer. I guess the thinking is that when the opponent is split up into smaller units, it is easier to overpower and defeat them. Jesus even said as much when He said,

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. I f a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” (Mark 3:24-26)

But Satan doesn’t oppose himself, he opposes God and all who belong to God. Satan’s goal is to divide us from our Creator God and subsequently to divide us from each other. We are easy prey when we are isolated and alone. Just as lions and other beasts of prey separate their intended victims from their herd or flock in order to overpower and capture them, Satan also hunts his prey in the same manner. Peter warns about this very thing in his letter to believers, saying –

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

We first saw Satan employ this divide and conquer strategy in the Garden. Satan needed to get Eve alone in order to deceive her. When Satan succeeded in getting Eve to question God, to doubt God and to believe his lies, the result was Eve and her husband Adam became separated from God. In fact, the first thing they did was to hide from God. They also found themselves at odds with each other. The perfect peace of the Garden was gone forever.

Today we are experiencing the “wars and rumors of wars” that deception and division ultimately bring about. Interesting that those are the two tools the devil uses to accomplish his evil purposes – deception and division. He is called “the father of lies” for a reason, after all. Jesus said this about him –

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

This certainly seems to be a time in history when division runs rampant and runs deep. Here in the U.S. we have been experiencing division politically, racially, by gender, by economic status, by religious beliefs, and lately by any viewpoint such as mask vs. no mask or vaccine vs. no vaccine or mandates vs. individual choice. There are so many categories and divisions (many created and artificial) that it is hard to keep up with them all. If one thing doesn’t separate me from my friends, neighbors and coworkers, something else will. All this division leads to isolation and isolation allows the enemy of our souls to defeat and destroy us one person at a time.

Deep divisions, however, are not unique to this time in history. Jesus also lived in a deeply divided culture, in a deeply divided world. Jesus came to bring unity, peace and life rather than division, strife and death. Paul wrote these words in Colossians 3:11 –

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

Paul wrote basically the same thing in his letter to the Galatians, saying –

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Interesting that Jesus is a unifier while Satan is a divider. But then, they are polar opposites in every way. Our God is a God of reconciliation, wanting us to be reconciled to Himself and to each other. When we have peace with God, that paves the way for us to have peace within ourselves and to have peace with each other. It should be no surprise that one of Jesus’s names is “the Prince of peace.”

And it is also no surprise that our enemy operates by dividing us from each other and then destroying us when we are isolated and alone. That’s his game plan – divide and conquer. But God knows we do best when connected to others because we were created to live in community.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Community functions best when it practices inclusion. There is much talk about inclusion today, while at the same time those in power and leadership positions, with the aid of the media, continue to create endless categories of division among us, making it more difficult for the power and possibilities of life lived with connection in community to be experienced. They have us so focused on our differences (I thought diversity was good?) that we can’t seem to come together. They know we are easier to control and to manipulate if we are divided among ourselves, rather than united by any shared purposes and values.

Jesus is the One who practices inclusion perfectly, probably because He is the original author of inclusion. We just read that in Christ there is neither “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, . . . but we are all one in Christ Jesus.” At that time in history Jew vs. Gentile was a huge racial divide as was being a Samaritan for instance, which was another racial division. Today those words could read, “in Christ there is neither black nor white, liberal nor conservative, vaccinated nor unvaccinated, rich nor poor . . .” Well, you get the idea. While there are an infinite number of things that we can choose to let separate us from one another, in Christ all those divisions disappear. He is an all inclusive God.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Did you catch that? God wants everyone to come to Him. His gracious invitation excludes no one. God is all about inclusion – all about welcoming in the previously unwelcome, the outcasts. In Zephaniah God says this,

“At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. (those who have been exiled, the outcast) I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.” (Zephaniah 3:19)

People talk about diversity, equity and inclusion as if it is something brand new. But our Creator God is not only an all-inclusive God, He is the author and originator of all diversity. If you doubt this, all you have to do is to look around you. The infinite diversity of all creation should make this clear as we observe nature in all its forms. And the pinnacle of God’s creation, the human race, is no exception. In our one race, the human race, we behold infinite diversity of form and personality, yet all – each one of us is created in His image.

While God is the originator of diversity and inclusion, He is the God of equality not equity. We know that although all have equal opportunity before God,

“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;” (Joel 2:32)

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12)

outcomes are not equal because those outcomes depend on the choices of the individual and people given free will are going to make different choices. Here again, Satan, the enemy of our souls, has taken what God authored, diversity, equality and inclusion – and twisted God’s truth into something unrecognizable in our current culture. The very voices that clamor for inclusion at every turn, are the same voices creating division at every opportunity. Could it be that by “inclusion” they simply mean the forced acceptance of behaviors and practices that are clearly against God’s good, perfect and pleasing will for each and every life He created?

Satan uses deception to divide us in order to conquer us, that he might destroy our lives one person, one family, one community, one country at a time. Fortunately, our Creator is a God of reconciliation, not division. Division brings conflict, reconciliation brings peace. Jesus came that we might be reconciled to God and to each other.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

God intended for us to experience unity through reconciliation and the peace unity brings, not the chaos and conflict that comes as a result of division. In Psalm 133:1 I read these words,

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

That’s God’s desire for us – to live connected to others in peace, not divided from others and therefore isolated. To that end I read what God did in Ephesians 2:13-19,

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”

No longer foreigners or aliens – no longer separated from God or separated from each other! That’s the Good News! And no one is excluded. Our enemy seeks to divide us and so to conquer us, but in Christ we have the protection unity provides.

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Today, when deception and division seem to be prevailing, I am thankful that my Heavenly Father’s presence brings truth, reconciliation and peace. All things I long to experience.

“The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

sincerely, Grace Day