A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS
Although we know that Jesus told several parables involving farmers, it would not surprise me that if this story would have been current in His day He would have included it. Here’s how this story, that I read some time ago involving farmers, goes:
There were these two brothers who lived on adjoining farms that got into a heated argument. It was their first serious disagreement in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery, and using the same farmhands and materials as needed without a hitch. Then this long record of cooperation sadly fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on the older farmer’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days’ work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? “Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother! A few weeks ago there was a beautiful meadow between us. But for some reason, he took his tractor and plowed a path from the pond above our farms down to the river below, and never said a word to me about his plan. As you can see, now there this ugly creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. See that pile of old lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot solid fence – so I won’t have to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter shook his head “Yes” and said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me where to get some nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do the job, and I hope you will be pleased with my work.” The older brother had to go to town, so he took the carpenter along to get the materials, brought him back and then left for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day – measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
But when the farmer looked toward the fence he expected to see, his eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all! Instead, there was a bridge … a three-foot wide bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, had just walked up to the bridge to see what was going on. When the two brothers saw each other, the younger brother stretched out his hand in the direction of his older brother and said: “You are a great big brother to build this bridge, after all, I’ve said and done to you.” As the two brothers stood facing each on opposite sides of the bridge, there was a moment of silence. Then simultaneously, they walked toward each other, meeting in the middle of the bride. There, they shook hands, embraced, and wiped away some tears from their cheeks.
At that moment, the carpenter hoisted his toolbox onto his shoulder and began to walk away. “No, wait!” said the older brother, stay a few more days, I’ve lots of other projects for you.” “I’d love to stay,” said the carpenter, “but I have many more bridges to build.” When I read this story I immediately thought of the fact that Jesus was a carpenter’s son. He did not come to build fences between people, but bridges. The Apostle Paul was then able to tell us, “Jesus came to bring peace. He did that by breaking down the wall of contempt that used to separate us. Because of this, we can all now be part of one family.”1 So if that wall has been broken down, what’s keeping so many of us apart? Use that bridge today to make peace with those with whom you’ve been estranged. If they ask you why you want to reconcile, tell them that the Carpenter built you a bridge. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Ephesians 2:14