The drive to the bridge was filled with mixed emotions.
Nestled atop a cliff, it spanned the gorge, offering breath-taking views of the river below and the waterfall that graced the mountainside.
But there was something a little unsettling about a bridge suspended precariously in the air. It didn’t feel quite right to be walking across wood planks connected by rope and bordered by a wire cage. I should add, suspension bridges sway – controlled by the wind and the steadiness of those crossing.
The bridge was a few miles from the parking lot and with each step, my excitement turned to anxiety. I came to the end of the path and the entry to the bridge was in view. It appeared narrower than I had imagined and it seemed to disappear into the trees, a dark uninviting space.
People say the first step is the most difficult. So, I inched my toes to the edge of the first plank, prayed, and started walking. Gripping the wire cage with both hands, I made my way to the middle of the bridge, stopping briefly to look over the edge – water, rocks, a deer, and yes a waterfall cascading over the rim of the gorge to the floor below.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see them running down the path. Teenage boys, R U N N I N G with abandonment towards the bridge. And that small voice in my head began to scream.
Get. Off. The. Bridge!
My peaceful encounter with anxiety, suspension bridges, nature, was about to be profoundly disrupted by a tsunami of swaying, the turbulent waves of teenage boys running across a suspension bridge. As their feet hit the first plank, I turned and started walking towards that dark uninviting exit. But before I could make it very far, the wave hit, the bridge shifted and swayed, and all that I had feared was realized.
I clung to the side of the bridge as the boys ran by. Their laughter and screams could be heard as they disappeared into the shadows.
The bridge’s movement slowed and finally came to rest. I gathered what little courage I had left and made my way to the other side.
It was done. I was safely on solid ground – challenge conquered, crisis averted, and courage growing.
Making my way through the dark uninviting space, I found a path that took me to the river floor, across a shallow stream, up a narrow ridge, and back to the parking lot. All the while, the bridge hung overhead, swaying in cadence with the wind.
Once safely back on pavement, I replayed the day’s events in my mind – toes to plank, first step, boys RUNNING, and a path to safety. I remembered looking up from the river floor and seeing the bridge suspended from cliff edge to cliff edge and at that moment realized I had been changed by the experience. There was a peacefulness settling in that quiet space deep in my heart. A subtle confidence – another fear faced and overcome.
2020 felt a little like an endless suspension bridge, swaying in the turbulence of unprecedented times. With each step, the movement intensified leaving us searching for something to cling to. It became a year of divisiveness, anger, self-absorption, and unprecedented anxiety and fear.
But it was also a year of opportunity. A break in our normal pace allowing us to reflect and refocus.
Theologian Edmund Clowney writes,
“God sends trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self-confidence and drive us to our Savior.”
Looking back over the journey, I see that I have changed – a little less cynical, a bit more compassionate, and perhaps more focused. Focused on the things that mean the most – husband, sister, best friends. Focused on the truth that regardless of the circumstance, God remains in control.
I pray that in 2021 you will discover the truth taught to you by last year’s journey. That you embrace the fact that God remains near, and that your faith in the steadfastness of Christ grows.
Blessings His BeLOVED,
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
For additional reading – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV
Take a few minutes to consider the following.
- As you look back over 2020, what have you learned about the steadfastness of Christ?
- How will you allow this new knowledge to penetrate your heart and change you in the New Year?