Summary: Faith is a bridge that carries us over the troubled waters of life. It is Like a "Bridage over troubled waters."
A Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Thomas Bracewell, OSL
Luke 21: 5-24
The Introduction and Summary Statement
I have been very fortunate in this life to have been allowed to travel to many foreign lands and see a great number of strange and wonderful sights. I have enjoyed the natural beauty of these places and have also experienced their harshness in the form of tropical monsoons, typhoons and hurricanes, as well as the bitter cold at the very fringe of the Arctic circle. As an NCO and later as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Army Special Forces, I, along with many other Georgians and native Southerners, endured winter warfare training in Canada and Alaska and sweated through great swamps and tropical rain forests in, Africa and Central America. In the vastness of the Arabian desert we drank liters of water daily to keep from becoming dehydrated and endured terrible sand storms that blew with such force as to sand-blast the paint off our vehicles.
Through all these experiences I would marvel at the glory of God’s creation in the earth, sky and sea, and find myself humbled by the knowledge that He cared for beings so insignificant as humankind. I worked along side men from all races and nationalities suffering together the hardships and sharing what meager comforts our situations could afford. Some were Jews while yet others were Moslems; a many were Christians and some few professed no religious preference at all, but none were without any faith whatsoever.
We trained with forces ranging from the elite of the British Special Air Service and the Paratroopers of the French Elite Legion Forces to the primitive tribesmen in the mountains of Peru and the steaming jungles of the Congo basin.
The most strategic target of any of these exercises was the "bridge." It could be an enormous steel and concrete structure spanning a vast river complex or simply two ropes strung together over a stream in a rain forest, but in either case it was still a bridge. Even to civilians the bridge is of strategic importance as I hear Joey and Jennifer encouraging motorists to take the toll bridge to work every morning in Montgomery On WSFA’s “Today in Alabama”.
The Sermon Proper
Have you ever considered the Christian faith to be a bridge over the rough places in this life? If not the Christian faith then consider Christ himself as our bridge in life. In our scripture lesson we read of things to come (perhaps here already in some sense) that are terrible to think about. the key verse that stands out of all of these warnings is verse 19. Christ tells us; "In your patience possess your souls." Perhaps patience is the bridge that spans the gaps in our lives . . . between what we ourselves want and what God wants for us.
My family will tell you that I am a fine one to preach on patience. But as some of you have heard me say from the pulpit, in choosing scripture to preach from, I often address those areas in my own life where I feel most vulnerable. Patience is one of these areas for me and perhaps it is for you as well.
If we consider Christ or the Christian faith as a bridge and we consider patience in this same way, then we can perhaps gain a insight into the very nature of God. The Almighty has to be of omnipotent patience to abide the very actions of this sinful generation. As long as there have been churches and preachers and Christian lay-persons witnessing, you would think that the world would be a place overrun with people of patience; but unfortunately this is not the case.
How patient is God? Remember in the book of Genesis when God stood ready to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah: Abraham ask the almighty "Will you also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"(Genesis 18: 23-33) Then he goes on to seemingly test the Lord’s patience: "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; would you also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the judge of the all earth do right?" Here we see an example of the patience of the Lord, the almighty being preached to by Abraham. But the story is not finished yet. . .God answers Abraham: "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." But Abraham continues to whine, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would you destroy all the city for the lack of five?" And God said "If I find forty-five I will not destroy it." And Abraham spoke to God yet again and said "Suppose there should be forty found there?’ and God said "I will not do it for the sake of forty." But Abraham was not finished even yet. . . And he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: suppose thirty should be found there?. And God answerers,"I will not do it if I find thirty there." And Abraham said: "Indeed now I have taken it upon myself the speak with the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?" And God answered, "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty." And Abraham said: "Let not the Lord be angry and I will speak but once more: and he said, "Suppose only ten should be found there?" And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for the sake for ten."