"An Unsafe Bridge"

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 
(Matthew 7:25)

"An Unsafe Bridge"
By David A. Seamands

Finished early in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State was a masterpiece of engineering.  A 2,800-foot suspension bridge, it provided a much-needed crossing over the waters of the Puget Sound.  It cost $75 million, a staggering expenditure at the time.  It attracted so much attention that a local insurance company used it as an advertising slogan.  Ads reading, "As Safe as the Tacoma Bridge," helped its insurance business flourish - but only for a few months.

On November 7, 1940, a high wind began blowing in the Sound, and no one knows exactly what happened next.  One theory was that because of the unusual terrain, wind trapped in that location would actually have the effect of doubling in velocity.  So the 42-mile-an-hour wind of that afternoon had the effect of 84 miles an hour.

Whatever the cause, the bridge began to sway slightly.  That was nothing new - the media had already affectionately named the bridge "Gallopin' Gertie."  But this time the swaying got steadily worse until the bridge was in a violent front-and-back oscillation.  Terrified drivers climbed out of their vehicles and crawled back on the highway bridge which was now like a washboard.  Within minutes the gigantic structure splintered into pieces and crashed into the Sound.  Fortunately, the only loss of life was one animal.

The embarrassed insurance company had to hire anyone they could find, at ridiculously high wages, to go all over the Northwest to take down their ad.  When the bridge was finally rebuilt in 1951, the engineers gave special attention to remedy what they felt might have been the original defect, "insufficient torsional and vertical stiffness in the main girders which were only eight feet deep."

Many a sincere Christian has tried to bridge the gap between God and himself by a way of obedience to a precise and codified set of rules.  The precisely engineered scheme of externalized laws, rules, and regulations gives the appearance of immense strength.  But the person's efforts never bring lasting peace because there is always one more rule that some person or group adds to the list.  This is an unsafe bridge which will one day collapse in a storm. 

Pastor Morgan's Thoughts

The Apostle Paul had to learn this difficult lesson of not depending upon oneself. That mental process is seen in chapter 7 of Romans. The struggle he openly shares is a struggle of trying to depend upon the law for his spirituality. With a transparent heart he acknowledges the bankruptcy of such futile efforts. Thankfully, in chapter 8 Paul gives the answer to such a struggle.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3) For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4) so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to theSpirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

The Apostle, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, came to realize that God has put a divine empowering mechanism in each of us. It is the Holy Spirit. It is He who empowers and enables us to live the Christian life with joy and meaning. Life living by a code of law as Dr. Seamands describes is spiritual life on a treadmill - a life bleached of joy and victory. Romans 8 is the great spiritual Emancipation Proclamation.