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