Try extending a bridge instead of a harsh word

Published 12:00am Saturday, May 19, 2012

There’s a story told about two brothers who lived on adjoining farms. One day, the brothers had a falling out after 40 years of farming side by side.

They’d shared machinery and traded goods as needed without a hitch until a small misunderstanding grew into a major difference. Finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words, followed by weeks of silence.

One morning, there was a knock at the door of the older brother named John. When he opened it, there stood a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help you with?”

“Yes,” said John. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm,” he pointed toward the water. “That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother.

“A few weeks ago, there was a meadow between us. He took his bulldozer to the river levee, and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better.” John showed the carpenter a pile of lumber by his barn. “I want you to build me a fence, an eight foot fence, so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”

The carpenter paused and said, “I think I understand the situation. Give me the nails and a post-hole digger, and I’ll be able to do a job that will please you.” After helping the carpenter get all the things he needed, John had to go to town most of the day. The carpenter worked hard all day – measuring, sawing and nailing.

The farmer returned about sunset, just as the carpenter finished his job. John’s jaw dropped when he saw what the carpenter had built. Instead of a fence, there was a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other.

And, the younger brother was coming across the bridge with his hand outstretched, “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers met in the middle, shook hands and started talking.

About that time, they turned to see the carpenter standing nearby, lifting his toolbox on his shoulder. The older brother hollered, “Wait. Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you to do.”

The carpenter replied, “I’d love to stay awhile, but, I have many more bridges to build.”

George Herbert once wrote, “He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he were to reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.”

A Jewish carpenter, born more than 2,000 years ago, came to build a bridge between mankind and God. The Bible says, “All have sinned,” (Romans 3:23) and our sin separates us from a Holy God.

But, God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross to build a bridge reconciling each of us to Him. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can have peace with God.

 

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