This month, one of our ministry road trips in Michigan will afford us a luxury that people over 60 years ago could not enjoy. We will journey into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and back via the Mackinac Bridge. No matter how many times you cross its magnificent five-mile span, you are amazed by this amazing structure and its impact upon the region.
According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority website, the Mackinac Bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere and the third longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge, which opened to traffic on November 1, 1957, is five miles long and contains 42,000 miles of wire in its main cables. The height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level.
All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. It is possible that the deck at center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. This would only happen under severe wind conditions. The deck would not swing or sway but rather move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the wind. After the wind subsides, the weight of the vehicles crossing would slowly move it back into center position.
It was a joy during our last pastorate to have in our church a retired church-planting missionary couple who had served their Lord in the Upper Peninsula. During our visits with them, they loved to tell us about their past days of service for Christ in pioneer church work in Michigan’s northland region and to show us pictures and memorabilia from their ministry there. They told us of the isolation they experienced during the long winters and how the area changed in their later days of ministry. When questioned about what changed things in those later years they quickly responded, “Oh, the bridge changed everything.” Indeed, the building of the Mackinac Bridge opened up that beautiful region to many people who had never experienced it before.
It’s amazing the difference a bridge can make. Bridges make it possible to cross dangerous passages or normally uncross able chasms. As a result, places and people who were once disconnected have the capability of connection. And for those fearful of the passage over such a structure, special services are offered. Because of the imposing nature of the “Mighty Mac” there is actually Bridge Authority Driver Assistance Program. Bridge Authority workers deal with people afflicted with “gephyrophobia” every day (gephyra is Greek for bridge). Each year over one thousand gephyrophobes hand over their keys to Bridge Authority workers to be chauffeured from one side of the bridge to the other.
The bridge service is free of charge. One area resident frequently uses this service and shares, “This service is wonderful! I never have to wait more than 15 minutes. And they always do what I ask: They stay in the middle, away from the edge!” FYI, the census of gephyrophobes is evenly divided between males and females!
What is true in relation to physical barriers is also true in the spiritual realm. From the earliest days of human existence there has been a deep seated acknowledgement of the terrifying gulf that is fixed between God and man. Job bemoans this undeniable fact for all of humanity when he declares in Job 9:33, “Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” Job desired a mediator, an arbitrator who would understand both parties and bring them together. He desired someone who could bridge that gap.
What Job cried out for near the beginning of human existence was answered by God centuries later when “the Father sent [His] Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). God becomes man! Jesus lives as we live, feels as we feel, and solves the great problem between mankind and God. The Bible declares that Jesus has bridged the eternal chasm between a holy God and unholy sinners by His death for their sins.
One of the terms used in the Bible to describe this action by Christ is the word “reconcile.” To “reconcile” means to bring two parties together. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 shares the wonderful news regarding the bridge of reconciliation that God has constructed: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ … that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.”
Next week Christians will commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We do this because it is Christ Who makes it possible for a relationship to take place between us and God. 2 Timothy 2:5-6 affirms this by stating, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.” Jesus is the Mediator, the Bridge that crosses the godless chasm of sinful depravity. He is also the One who offers passage for “spiritual gephryophobes,” making it possible for repentant sinners to receive forgiveness and cleansing and become the children of God. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 declares: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The next time you cross an impressive bridge structure remember the great love and sacrifice offered by “the Man Christ Jesus” in bridging the gap between yourself and God. And, rejoice that safe passage across the bridge is provided through the same Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
“There’s a bridge to cross the great divide
A way was made to reach the other side
The mercy of the Father, cost His son His life
His love is deep, His love is wide
There’s a cross to bridge the great divide”
“The Great Divide,” Grant Cunningham and Matt Huesmann, © 1995 Emily Booth, Inc. (adm. by Reunion Music Publishing) / River Oaks Music (adm. by the Sparrow Corp.) / BMI
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).
You have His Word on it! (KEF)