Building Bridges

I love running in the winter. The air is crisp, the trails crunch as you run along. The things you can’t see when trees are full of leaves suddenly become visible.

Such was the scene in front of me as I ran around the reclaimed land from an old coal mining town. I don’t run in this place from May to October because, whereas it is quiet and you can run for miles without seeing anybody, the rattlesnakes own this land so it is best to leave it to them. However, during the late fall and winter, I own these trails and love to get out on them.

As I was running a new trail along the river, I came across a scene that made me stop and think. In the middle of nowhere, along a gently flowing river as I crunched through ankle-deep snow, right in front of me arose huge concrete foundations with really large steel stanchions and what looked like  three-inch thick steel cables crossing the river. The bridge that used to be held by these incredibly strong-looking foundations was no longer. Over the years the wood had broken and crumbled into the water. I was struck as I gazed at this sight at how much like life this former walking bridge, built to cross a river, is.

There are areas of my life that are just like a broken bridge held up by a strong foundation. And to my frustration, there are areas where I have a strong bridge but the cables are broken.  What I want to express, what I want to communicate falls apart and crumbles into the river and a possible path to an unknown other side becomes more difficult and sometimes even impossible.

This can describe relationships, both personal and work, where the easy part is finding who is at fault and why it happened, but the hard part is determining how to rebuild the bridge so the other side can be accessed again.

I look at our culture today and I see broken bridges everywhere. In our political process there are no longer bridges, they have been destroyed by hyper partisanship. In many of our work relationships the companies we once were proud of working for have replaced leaders, who had vision and could communicate clearly the vision to follow, with managers who only tell you what to do.

In our marriages we have replaced the fullness of communication and understanding one another with existing in the same house together but without the richness of a bridge to cross back and forth in our relationship together.

Most of all I see broken bridges in our spiritual lives. What should be a rich relationship built on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ has been broken and crumbled into the river of religion and movements.

My deepest desire, as I run along the meandering trails of life, is to be a bridge to bring people together and not to break them apart. I may not be super-human and able to make this suddenly happen, but I do know that in the place that I am called, my greatest task in life is to bring the best out of people so they can recognize and begin to live from a place of strength and not weakness.

In reality this is why I run. I run to seek meaning and direction from the God, who built a strong foundation in me. It is God who told me that I am a conqueror! I am a warrior! I am a man called by God, no matter what the world around me assigns me as a title. Most importantly I am a bridge builder. Every person I come across in life desires to be made whole, to have somebody recognize their valuable contribution to society and every person I come across deserves that somebody recognize their inherent good.

I know this may mean that I don’t get my bridge crossing the river from sustenance to riches in life, but I do get something far more valuable.

See, when I recognize the inherent good in somebody else, I build a bridge between their hopes and desires and their reality, which they can then choose to cross over. Building bridges isn’t recognized by all. My employer will most likely never recognize my value to the organization, because they can’t understand it. However, there is someone far more important that I build bridges for and He is my rock solid foundation, with strong cables and boards, crossing over the rivers of life.