As I was going through a box of memorabilia recently, I came across a favorite old story that was a simple, but valuable, reminder to always come back to what’s really important in life. Perhaps it will be a good reminder for you also.
Here’s how the story goes…
Once there were two farmers who lived side-by-side for years and had committed to their friendship for life. One day they had a huge argument over a piece of land and the argument severed their friendship.
The first farmer dug a ditch around his land that was so deep the other farmer couldn’t get across to set foot on his property.
The second farmer thought of a way to keep his estranged friend off his property and hired a carpenter to build a fence so high the other farmer wouldn’t be able to even see his land, much less get to it.
He told the carpenter why he wanted a fence built and shared the story of the argument and the sad outcome with his estranged friend. “Can you build the fence?” he asked.
“I think I can help you,” said the carpenter.
The second farmer left early in the morning to plow his fields and the carpenter started to work. Later in the afternoon as the sun was setting, the second farmer returned to his home and met the carpenter in the yard. He asked if the fence was finished.
“Come with me and I’ll show you,” said the carpenter.
The second farmer looked out over his land, but couldn’t see a fence. All the carpenter had constructed was a footbridge across the ditch to the land of the other farmer.
He saw his estranged friend walking across the bridge, coming straight across the property to him.
“Old friend,” said the farmer as they embraced, ” I was sorry the day I dug that ditch, but now you’ve done the right thing by putting a bridge across the ditch to connect us again. I am truly happy.”
The second farmer glanced over at the carpenter and smiled, realizing that the carpenter, in his wisdom, had bridged two friendships.
“And so am I,” he said, “and so am I….”
The moral of the story? There should always be a bridge – something to come back across on.
I’d like to take it one step further and remind you that our carpenter is Jesus Christ who, in His wisdom, can always give us a way back. He can build a bridge of connection in marriage, family and friend relationships, and with our children and grandchildren – in the good times and the hard times. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6.
With all the unknowns and uncertainties in our world right now, this is a good time to pause, reflect, and search your heart to see if you need to build a bridge, or mend a bridge in your marriage or in any relationship. It’s a good time to consider anything you might have done, or said, that has caused someone to build a fence around their heart. Or, perhaps you have built that same fence around your heart.
Sometimes criticism or harsh words has caused a bridge to be unsteady and worn. Those unsteady and worn places can be strengthened with a word of encouragement, an act of kindness, or by saying those powerful words, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.” What better medicine for a hurt or wounded heart than strengthening the bridge of connection by giving love or forgiveness to someone who needs it.
Through simple, ordinary things my bridge of connection with friends and family has been strengthened during these months of isolation and safe distancing. It’s the little things that have become big things to me, like texts, phone calls, a card in the mail, Facetime, Zoom, little acts of kindness left at my front door, a smile, and an eager hello from neighbors as I walk each day.
May I never forget to give that which I have received long after these times have passed and, with God’s grace, remember to build bridges with those I love.