Monday, November 16, 2009

Bridges to Burn

For those who don't know, I live in Wheaton, Illinois - the "Mecca" of Evangelical Christianity. I came here from Memphis planning to leave in six months and ended up getting stuck here for the last NINE years! Before I could say 'Jack Squat' I was invited to teach in Kane County jail by a Roman Catholic deacon. I also got busy teaching a Bible study fellowship called Open Arms Fellowship.

Mississippi River Bridges - old and newWe are having our yearly Open House Sunday November 29th, inviting all the other Christians and non-Christians we can to show the love of Christ to and eat lots of food. As I said, its been NINE years. I went from one place to another almost in stupefied mystery. God erected bridges between me and others so that I could work unfettered as a teacher and bring the gospel to some really hurting people - and even to some VERY dedicated criminals!

Also in Wheaton there is small yet vital physical bridge [overpass] that allows us to avoid being held up by the train. It is so useful to us denizens, that even though it has needed repair for years, no one wanted to block it off to fix it. No one wanted to end its usefulness.

Now the time has come to shut down all traffic over this lone service bridge that has served our community so well. A year from now it will come back, glorious and an better than before, but for now, she must be taken down.

I'm sort of fond of that bridge. Like all Irish, I tend towards the romantic, the nostalgic. It takes the German in me to say "Enough - let's get to work!" and let it be demolished as unsafe and no longer a benefit to the community.

I am beginning to see I have to do that with certain relationships, certain "old neighborhoods" and "friends" I have on the internet. The bridges that once connected us are now unsafe and are even driving us apart. They are dry and unsubstantial; their "pylons" need removing and restoring.

I hate seeing bridges go; I despise seeing the remains of a once-prosperous community or a storefront all empty and hollow. Like Sam said as he watched the elves head to the Gray Havens to sail off to Valinor, leaving Middle-Earth forever: "I don't know why - but it makes me sad."

Well, I do know why it makes me sad. Its life and beauty and glory that has left. It is the "good old days" ending. A decade of discovery coming to an end. In modern American history, is a huge difference between 1936 and 1945, between 1963 and 1972, between 1976 and 1985, between 1999 and 2008 - each containing dramatic changes in our culture and in how we perceive our world.

I am one of the worst finishers in all of history. I am a good starter but a terrible finisher. If ever I pair up with a good finisher, someone who will take the baton across the finish line for me, I will be the most blessed man in the world.

Until then I have to stop now and then and assess what relationships work and which do not. I think we can be very much like Christ in this. He knew when to call it quits when arguing with His opponents and how to keep healing and loving those who came to Him.

I guess I am tired.

"Come with Me and rest awhile."

You got it, Jesus.


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