To Bridge: to make a way, to join, to connect, attach, bind unite
“Be a Spark and a Bridge….“ Those are the words I felt God give me as perimeters to all the other things the world would shout at me to be, to do, to accomplish in 2018. A spark, even a small one, can light a great forest on fire (James 3:5). An inspiration, even a small one can light a life on fire with passion. So I have found the few fires that burn within me, and have committed to throw my spark.
But sparks can be thrown from afar. I have received sparks of inspiration from books I have read, testimonies I have heard from a stage, lives I have respected in history. I bet you have too. A spark cannot be held.
A bridge, on the other hand is solid under my feet. It is trustworthy, for if it were not it would not be a bridge. It is built and it is present, step by step. A bridge connects and joins, unites and binds. A bridge makes a way.
After a spark is lit, after an inspiration has caught in our hearts, do we know the way from aspiration to actuality? The journey from idea to truth? From theology to reality? That journey takes a bridge. And in my life, those bridges have always been flesh and blood humans that know the way.
When we made our trek to this West Texas town a dozen years ago, we were a family of 4… my husband, me, our extremely vulnerable and bruised marriage, our 1 year old daughter, and our 2 week old son (yep, you read that right). I didn’t know a soul, but loneliness had been my companion for awhile. Motherhood twice over in the same number of years had isolated me to the land of survival, but barely. My soul was emaciated. And then, by way of the unlikely bridge of an old high school friend of my husband’s, I found my way to an extraordinary group of women. I recognized the wear of young motherhood in their eyes, but they were lighter than me, freer, bolder, connected. I decided in the first 5 minutes that I would never let them go.
Very early on, while I was still wading in the extreme shallow end of these relationships, we sat in my living room for a Bible Study, and I surprised even myself when I meekly eked out a prayer request that had been weighing heavily on my heart.
And then Emmy prayed.
See, you just read that sentence as any other… words that conveyed information like all those before. But within those 4 words, my life changed. Dramatic? Maybe. True? Absolutely. I don’t know what to tell you… I had never heard anything like it. The passion, the authority, the authenticity, the familiarity…It was like prayer was the air she had been breathing all her life and asking for a miraculous healing was the most natural thing, the most logical thing she had ever done.
I did not know this scripture then, but I know it now and it is all I can use to describe this moment in my life: “For the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” I Corinthians 4:20. See, I had lots of words and I knew The Word, but I had never seen this kind of power.
And I wanted it.
This new friend of mine (please read “almost-stranger-in-my-living-room”) was no different from me, it appeared. She was a stay-at-home mom just a few years further down the road than me. She did the laundry and fed the Cheerios, and fumbled in marriage, and got frustrated when the toddler poured the water out of the bathtub by the cupfuls. But when she opened her mouth that night, I knew there was a definite chasm between the two of us. Not a shameful, or lonely chasm, but one that beckons to more.
A spark was lit in me that night that burns still. A spark for prayer and the presence of God’s power in my life and in the lives of my family. A spark lighting the authority we have in Christ. A spark for wanting to see- no EXPECTING to see-the miraculous in our day to day. A spark for an authenticity and familiarity with the God of the universe I had never known.
And if Emmy had walked out of my living room and life that night, that spark would have been lit still, and been real, and life-changing. But she didn’t. She took my hand and spent years walking me across the bridge of my reality to her’s. She was the bridge in fact… steady, trustworthy, strong. She showed me the way, in word and deed. I watched her life, her relationships, her passions. I listened to the heart behind her “yes’s” and “no’s.” I followed a few steps behind as she pursued Jesus in a way that was new and scary and unsure. But she wasn’t scared or unsure. She knew the way. She wasn’t perfect, but she was the flesh and blood picture of where I wanted to get to in my apprenticeship to Jesus.
In I Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Does that feel audacious to you? Make you feel a little twitchy at all? I mean shouldn’t our eyes only be fixed on Jesus and nothing else? Shouldn’t He be enough? Of course He is our one and only Lord and Savior. But this is how He does it.. It’s how it has always worked. Flesh and blood examples a few steps in front of us. Bridges from where we are to where we want to be. From who we are to who we want to be. Paul was. Emmy was. Am I? Are you?
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….” In other words, “Go. Be a bridge from them to the Father. From theology to reality. From ideas to truth. Go take hands and lead them from there to here. Bring them to Me. Let them follow you as you follow Me. Show them. Be a bridge. Bridge the gap.”
If “calling” boils down to finding the fire that burns within and throwing your spark, maybe making disciples is simply bridging the gap between Christ and those a few steps behind us in our journey.
So I pray I am that for someone out there, someone close to me. I pray I have the chance to take a hand and walk someone across the divide.
How about you?
Look around. Is someone looking in closely to see how you mother, how your family functions, desperately wanting the same? Is there someone looking at your marriage, your community, your friendships, the way you handle the grind of everyday? Has someone asked what your prayer life looks like, what you are reading lately, to walk her through a study? She is begging you to bridge something for her. Be the bridge. Take the time and take her hand and lead her to Jesus. Have the guts and the character to join Paul in saying, “Follow my example as I follow Jesus.”
So, 2018 I am coming at you with a Spark and and Bridge. I pray to inspire and promise to stick around and join theology to reality wherever I can. It is simple, yet weighty. A Spark and A Bridge. Who is in?
And Emmy, I love you. I am forever changed because of the bridge you were to me.