Do you recall the nursery rhyme, “London Bridge” which we sang gleefully as children holding on to hands and circling around until the key phase culminated into “…my fair lady!”? We would then plop into giggles onto the ground. All was right with the world, even though we had no clue what this little ditty meant. (I still don’t)
This came to me, oddly, the other day when thinking about other kinds of bridges —the ones that get burned, either by people we love or by our own hand. These are the kind that don’t cause us to squeal in laughter. These are the kind that come at great cost.
The world is pretty good at telling us that burning bridges is okay. When we are done with someone, when we think that our happiness should be paramount, we strike a match and discard folks willy nilly. Friendships, marriages, relationships of every kind have suffered at the altar of “hooray for me, to hell with you” syndrome. It’s sad, really. And regardless of which side of the bridge you’re on, when it falls, people get hurt.
The story of the prodigal son, where a young man insists on his inheritance so that he can go off and see the world and partake of all it offered, is an easy representation of how, when we give into sin, casting off all prudence, we find that gluttony leads only to helplessness. Bridges leading back to wellbeing are often so broken we feel they can never be mended.
I am astounded, in my own life, at the lengths that some will go to burn down all propriety of relationship or accountability. As if people come with expiration dates, backs are turned and bridges brought down so that it’s clear that there is no way back. People that should be cared for, respected, and honored, are discarded at whim for reasons that have nothing to do with righteousness. When selfishness reigns, some will plow through life without conscience at the damage they do. They hurt, not just to those they should love, but generations that will come after them. Most of all, the damage done is to themselves.
It makes you wonder… Is this how they want to be remembered?
When we love with condition, when we stop doing and being the people God calls us to be in relationship with others, we turn our back on Him as well as those who depend on us.
It’s a challenge to watch it unfold and not fear for what is coming. It’s like watching a train wreck. Those who skirt off the track, eager in their mindset to seek the world and their own mostly selfish desires because “anything goes” is so much more appealing than staying the course and doing what is right. We all have names that fit this scheme, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, family and friends, who lose their sense of direction because they believe the lie that “out there” is where real happiness lives. It’s a bridge to nowhere.
God teaches us that nothing in the world will fulfill us, will bring us peace, will bring us true joy without Him at the center. The Holy Spirit guides us, keeping our feet on the right path, closing our ears to the drumbeat that calls us to temptation and to sin because He knows they only lead to death. They hurt us. They cause the bridges in our lives to fall.
Thankfully, God is like father of the prodigal son. He watches for us on the horizon, believing not in the son that ran, but in the one he raised. He celebrated when the broken young man came home — repenting of his sin and humbled at what he learned. He knew that he had rejected a life he thought he no longer needed or wanted, only to find that his father never gave up on him to return.
Proverbs 24:16 tells us “though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” We can get off track, we can sin, we can burn a bridge and discard relationships with one another and with God, but He will always take us back.
When we repent, when we seek Him after a season of running, or even doubting that He cares for us, God forgives us. He will restore our hearts, our minds, our spirits. He will rebuild our families and relationships. They don’t always look the same as they did before. But when we trust God to mend the broken parts in our lives, He will cross over with us to a new season.
My fair lady, hear me… I know the heartache that comes with broken roads and fallen relationships. Whether you have been on the receiving end or were the one responsible for the demolition of it, bridges can be rebuilt when we start with the Architect of Life. He’s waiting for you to ask Him, to hold hands with you and circle around your situation so that joy can return and you can clearly see your way up and over.
It’s never too late to seek rebuilding a bridge. Even when we do not know where it will lead, or how it will mend, we can always seek it in our prayers and our hearts and in our humility. Sometimes, those we yearn to see on the other side of it are not the ones God chooses for us to be there waiting. And sometimes, like the prodigal son, we will see them coming back to us when our own hearts are right. Restoration is a road paved with forgiveness.
Life is filled with fallen bridges of every kind. Do your best to follow God, trusting His ways. Do what you can, and leave the rest to His workmanship.
Seek Him first in all things. He rebuilds us from the inside out, and always for the better.