6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: It’s not only bridges and roadways that are ready to collapse, but all of Creation, torn by sin, will soon collapse as a new Heaven and Earth are created by God.

On The Verge of Collapse

Sunday, August 05, 2007 – AM

By Pastor Jim May

We have seen a great tragedy unfold this week in the news. Four days ago, on August 1st, the nation was stunned again as news and video of the collapse of the I35 Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota hit the airwaves. At present count there have been 6 confirmed deaths, over 100 injured and 30 people are still missing. As a result of this bridge collapse, our nation has been thrown into a sort of “bridge-phobia”. Every state in the union has now begun a series of safety inspections on bridges to try to ensure that nothing like this will happen again.

But the sad fact is that there are no guarantees that no other bridges will fail. Nothing that man builds will last forever. The effects of time, use and abuse and weather will all take their toll.

According to the news, most bridges have a lifespan of only about 50 years and the vast majority of our bridges are at least that old and more. I suppose it’s miraculous that we don’t have more collapsing bridges. The I10 bridge in Baton Rouge is close to 40 years old now. (That’s really sobering when I can remember it being built and can still picture the partially constructed spans when I was in college.) The Highway 190 Bridge is much older than that. It has been opened to traffic 67 years this month. Engineers have deemed it safe for use even though it’s in poor condition and there are numerous hairline cracks in its steel girders at each end.

It’s a sobering thing when we begin to think of how quickly life can come to an end. The stories that you hear of those who were injured or killed in the collapse make us realize that these things can happen to anyone, at any time or anywhere. All around us, every day, there are tragedies waiting to happen. We are living in a dangerous world and there is no place where you can be safe from any event.

On that Wednesday evening, while we were getting ready to start the church service, the highways in Minneapolis/St Paul were filled with rush hour traffic. The I35 Bridge is part of the main arteries that people use in their daily commute. It has been estimated that as many as 150 or more vehicles were on the bridge at the time of its collapse. It may be days, or weeks, before they are all found, and some may never be found.

We cannot help but think off those poor folks who sat on the bridge that day in bumper to bumper traffic, probably listening to the radio, talking on the cell phone and anxiously waiting for the cars in front to move so that they could all get home and rest. They could feel the rumble of the bridge below them, but they never suspected that in a moment of time they would be falling into the muddy waters far below.

How many times have you sat in heavy traffic on a bridge and looked at the rusting metal support beams or corroding concrete pillars and wondered if it was safe? I’ve been on top of the bridge in Baton Rouge and felt a little uneasy when the bridge vibrated sending vibrations through the whole car. Of course we simply try to not think about it, or pass it off as something that is normal. When I took engineering at LSU there was once fact that I learned. You can’t stop vibrations or movement in long bridges or tall buildings. They are designed with a little flexibility; otherwise they would crumble and fall.

If you have ever stood on a tall building in the wind you know what I mean. I was on top of the Empire State Building in New York City some years ago. It is said that the building will sway as much as 36 inches in strong wind. There is nothing so unsettling as standing 102 stories above the ground (roughly 4 times as high as our state capitol building) and feeling like the building is moving under you. I can’t imagine the terror of being in a building like the twin towers of the World Trade Center when they came crashing down.

The thing that really strikes me about all of this is that there is never any mention of whether these folks were ready to meet God or not. The news media is concerned about highway safety and matter pertaining to life and limb, but there is never a thought about the spiritual condition of the victims. I wonder how many were feeling great physically, doing great on their job, had wonderful families waiting for them at home, and suddenly were taken from this life?

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Steve Shepherd

commented on Aug 11, 2007

Dear Brother May, Excellent sermon! Excellent reminder! God bless you and praise the Lord!

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