There’s a story my dad used to use in some of his sermons. It goes something like this:
A young man was on a hike when he came to a gorge. There seemed to be no way across and he was going to have to turn around to find another way. But then he heard noises and went to investigate. He found an old man, busy building a bridge across the gorge. He laughed and commented to the old man, “Old man, what are you doing that for? You’ll be too old to cross the bridge by the time you get it finished.” Without missing a beat, the old man said, “I’m not building it for myself. I’m building it for those who come after me.”
I’ve thought a lot about that recently.
There are so many chasms and gorges between us. We seem to delight in finding ways to separate ourselves from each other!
And I’ve been seeing my ministry as trying to build bridges.
Sometimes that’s felt like an impossible task. Sometimes I’ve wondered if there’s any use…or if those bridges will ever be used.
But then this story from my father came to mind…and it gives me strength to go back to the task.
Some may not choose to ever cross the bridge I build. Some may not even think that I’m trying to build bridges. Some may delight in trying to tear the bridges down.
But that doesn’t change my call to ministry.
It’s not easy to build bridges. Sometimes it means biting my tongue on things I would like to say. Often it means being misunderstood–by people on both sides of the divide.
But if none of us try to build bridges, then the divisions will only get bigger and bigger and more difficult to bring back together.
Not all the bridge building comes from my side of the divide. There are people on the other side also trying to bridge the gap. If we can find each other–and work towards each other–then there is still hope.
“[We] build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Joseph Fort Newton
May we start understanding the importance of tearing down walls–and then using that material to start building bridges.