NO BRIDGE TOO FAR, a Devotion for 20 June 2018 Anno Domini
St. Andrews Anglican Parish Church
“Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.” Isaiah 50:2-3 (all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
I have a wonderful movie in my church film library which is, essentially, a modern-day parable. The movie is produced in Czeckoslavakia and is entitle, MOST (the Bridge in Slavic). This is one of the most moving and convicting movies I have ever seen. The movie depicts a loving father who loves his son dearly above every other thing in the world. His son is beautiful and obedient, and one to make any father proud. The boy is the only relation the man has in the world since his wife is passed on. He plays games with his son and teases him daily.
The father operates a draw bridge over, presumably, the Elbe River. The bridge operator’s son loves his father and desires to accompany him to work one day. As the boy plays along the river beneath the bridge tower, he notices a train approaching the bridge which remains up. The train is running ahead of schedule. The young boy calls to his father in warning, but the father cannot hear him.
As the train draws nearer the bridge, the boy realizes all aboard the train will perish unless action is taken. He runs out onto the bridge, reaches down to the emergency lever to manually begin the bridge closure. But he falls into the mechanism as he makes the attempt. Now, if the bridge is lowered, the boy will be crushed. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Aboard the train are dozens (maybe hundreds) of passengers many of whom are probably lost to God. There are drug addicts, runaways, lovers, and a young pregnant mother escaping the shame of her guilt. All are oblivious to the great danger which lies ahead for each of them. They are nonchalant and unaware of the drawn bridge ahead. Many are completely unaware of their lost state. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) It is obvious from the movie that few have called upon the name of the Lord. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) Have we bothered to send missionaries to the four quarters of the world? “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15) Unfortunately, we have many claiming to be preachers of the Gospel who have not been called, neither do they preach the pure Gospel.
The father faces a grave dilemma. If he does not lower the bridge, all passengers will perish. If he does lower the bridge, the passengers will be saved but his beloved son will perish! What would you do? “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:3-5) What a terrible choice confronted the father. Delaying his decision to the last possible moment, the father tearfully reached for the activation lever and pulled it down to lower the bridge. His son was crushed for the salvation of all aboard the train. Yet, they still were unaware of that great sacrifice – that is, all but the young woman who was pregnant. She saw, and understood, the grief on the father’s face, and later that his son had died for her. This knowledge completely changed her life, and made the life possible of the child she was carrying in her womb. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Nothing can more closely approach innocence than a young child. This is why Jesus said that “. . . Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) But this boy in the movie, though precious and courageous, could not compare in innocence to the only Begotten Son of God. When our Lord was dead and buried, He was separated for three days from His Father. But after three days, He rose again so that we might also arise. So was the young boy in the movie temporarily separated from his father. He may rest in that hope of seeing his son again beyond the Gates of Splendor. As David, the King, said after the death of his child conceived in adultery: “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23)
As my mother used to say, we are all travelling on a long, black train. It is the train of life which leads steadily on to death unless acted upon by an outside force. We have that outside force in Christ. We may be at ease and at comfort in our sins, but there is warning ahead. I am reminded of an old Iowa tale of two Lutheran clergyman. They were busy erecting a sign by the roadside properly dressed in their clergy collars. The sign read, “Turn around before it is too late. Save yourself while there is time!” At that time, a carload of drunks passed by and cursed at the two ministers, shouting, “Why don’t you old varmints mind your own business and let us live our lives as we please!” Shortly after was heard a loud crash. One of the ministers looked at the other and said, “Hey, Ole, maybe ve should re-vorde de sign. Maybe ve should yust say, “Bridge out ahead!”
I hope that the bridge is not out on the train you are riding. Perhaps we should heed the old Blue Grass Gospel song and board the Gospel Train instead of that long, black train.
NOTE: I encourage each of you to view the movie I referenced. It is no Hollywood production, but obviously made by humble, faithful Christians who love the Lord and who love their fellow man.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q844OgsP4_4 – short version 5 mins
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ_tDVNLrnA – regular length with subtitles (30 minutes)
“Prenez en Gré”
In Christ Alone
in TRINITY SEASON
† Jerry L. Ogles , D.D.
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide & Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary
“Metus improbo compescit, non clementia.” – Syrus, MAXIMS: Fear, not kindness, restrains the wicked!
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – HOLY SCRIPTURE:
“If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God’s Word; and if we be uncertain of God’s Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan.”