The challenge was to build a railroad bridge across the great Niagara Gorge. “It can’t be done!” In 1851, James Roebling thought otherwise.
Despite overwhelming challenges (like an 850 foot span over a 200 foot drop off), and despite being labeled as “out of his mind,” in just four years Roebling accomplished what was thought impossible. His bridge supported the weight of a fully loaded locomotive pulling freight and passengers.
Stop for a moment and let the challenge sink in. How would you start to build across a canyon that was almost three football fields wide? Well it started very small. In fact, it began with a game. Roebling’s predecessor, Charles Ellet, offered a five dollar reward to the first boy who could fly a kite over the Niagara gorge. It took two windy days, but finally a boy succeeded. Then his kite string was attached to a larger string, which was attached to a small rope, which was attached to a larger rope, which was attached to a small cable, and so on.
It started with a kite string.
When we think about building bridges to those around us, perhaps even those who are different than us, or those whom we have learned not to trust, it often starts with a kite string.
- It’s a sincere prayer.
- It’s a gracious word.
- It’s a simple gesture of kindness.
- It’s an invitation to a conversation.
- It’s a shared cup of coffee or a meal.
What seems like an unbridgeable gorge between people can be crossed if we’re willing to start with a kite. Flying kites is not hard. Neither are the ideas above.
Some are saying it can’t be done. That we can’t build bridges to the “other.” And yet the story of the gospel is exactly that: a story of God building a bridge to us. (If you missed last Sunday, check out the message here.)
Roebling believed it could be done. Jesus proved it can be done.
It’s our turn. Be sure to join us this weekend for “Building Bridges to the Stranger.”
Now go fly a kite!