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The Greatest Servant Built Bridges

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With a line of other cars, we were driving the coastal road when the stream of traffic came to a stop. The drawbridge ahead of us was lifting to allow a small sailboat to exit the canal on its way out to the bay. It was rush hour, and we could sense the frustration of drivers anxious to get to work on time. Our access was blocked. The link to the other side was broken. Of course, it was temporary. In good time the drawbridge lowered, and the line of traffic began to move forward again.

Many bridges around our nation are worn out, rusted, beginning to buckle, to need reinforcement. Over time the wear and weight of traffic saps the strength of a bridge. Huge expense goes into new design and reconstruction so that the roadway from one side to another is restored. If the disrepair is bad enough, the two-way traffic across gets interrupted, communications gets snarled, lives may even be lost in a sudden collapse.

To serve others is a noble calling—altruistic, responsible, performed out of love and concern. But what does it mean to truly serve? For me it comes down to this: to be a bridge, a link between my own limited resources and someone else’s need. But how? We live in a cracked, fragmented world rampant with unresolved disputes.

I used to live in the San Francisco Bay area, with its huge bridges. They seem indestructible, but like all material things, they won’t last forever. With that in mind, and thinking of Jesus as an indestructible Bridge, I wrote the following poem:

Step on it

All these broken bridges—
we have always tried to build them
to each other and to heaven.
Why is it such a sad surprise
when last year’s iron-strong,
out-thrust organization, this month’s
shining project, today’s silver network
of good resolutions all answer the future’s questions
with rust, and the sharp, ugly jutting
of the unfinished?

We have miscalculated every time.
Our blueprints are smudged.
We never order enough steel.
Our foundations are shallow as mud.
Our cables fray. Our superstructure
is stuck together clumsily
with rivets of the wrong size.

We are our own botched bridges.
We were schooled in Babel
and our ambitious soaring
sinks in the sea. How could we ever
hope to carry Your heavy glory?
We cannot even bear the weight
of our own failure.

But You did the unthinkable.
You built one Bridge to us,
solid enough, long enough,
strong enough to stand all tides
for all time, linking
the unlinkable.

Even with our human limitations, there are myriad ways to serve. I am serving God when I sing in our church choir, leading the congregation in worship. I serve when I pick up a gum wrapper from the sidewalk, reversing chaos in an infinitesimal way. Or when I talk to another passenger on a plane about life with God, or hold a crying baby to give a tired mother a break.

As the poem above shows, Jesus was the greatest of Servants, giving up his life so others could have life, bridging the gap between heaven and earth, and linking us with God so that two-way traffic could flow between heaven and earth.

__________________________

“Step on it” reprinted from Polishing the Petoskey Stone, Regent College Publishing, Copyright Luci Shaw, 1990. Used by permission of the author.

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