The kind of bridge I want

The Huey P. Long Bridge crosses the Mississippi River a few miles downriver from here.  It was dedicated in 1935, a time when cars were small and narrow and governments needed to put men to work.  That’s why they gave New Orleans its first bridge across the river and named it after this politician of dubious merit.  (That’s a pet peeve of mine, but I’ll move right along.)

The problem with that bridge for all the decades since is that its two lanes were too narrow and curving for modern cars and trucks. Each lane was 9 feet wide, with no shoulders alongside. Signs forbade trucks from passing anyone, and motorists caught up on their prayers driving across it.  It really could be frightening.

Then, in recent years, the government finally decided it was high time to upgrade that bridge, and shelled out something like a billion dollars to widen it and correct some of its flaws.  These days, driving across that huge wide expanse is a pure joy. (The lanes are 11 feet wide, bordered by a 2 feet-wide shoulder to the inside and an 8-foot shoulder to the outside.)

What I wanted to tell you, though, was something an engineer said about the original bridge, something I find fascinating.

Now, in the middle of the bridge is a railroad track.  Long freight trains cross it all the time.  Motorists crossing the bridge will often feel a shudder from the heavy trains just to the left.

In the mid-30s, all locomotives were steam engines and were massive.  Architects designing the bridge went with the assumption that engines of the future would just keep getting bigger and heavier, and thus the bridge would have to withstand the greater weight. So, they build a monster of a foundation with a massive structural framework.  The Huey P. would be ready for whatever came.

What they could not have anticipated was the advent of diesel locomotives.  So, instead of getting heavier and heavier, engines became lighter.

Engineers say the bridge was built to hold such a massive weight that the actual weight of the cars and trucks on it at any time is negligible.

Think of that. At any given time, a hundred automobiles may be crossing the river, many of them 18-wheelers. And yet, the combined weight and stress they produce on the bridge is negligible.

I love that.

It’s called redundancy and it’s a great concept.

“Redundancy” means something is constructed with backup strength and failsafe methods.  If one part goes, the other compensates.

The human body was designed that way, we’re told.  I know people who have had major blood vessels to clog up and shut down, but their bodies found another way to move blood to the affected part of the body and they carried on. Truly amazing.

Modern airplanes, we’re told, are built with ingenious systems to handle every conceivable requirement. And then designers do one thing more: they add additional ways to accomplish the same thing.  If the primary system fails, here is another way to get that done.

Redundancy in automobiles, airplanes, electronics, and a thousand other features of modern life is a fact of life these days, and we are all the better for it.

But modern man did not invent the concept.

God build a redundancy into the Christian life.  Think of this…

When the Lord saved you and forgave your sins, He made you His child.  You were born again. He wrote your name down in the Book of Life, and accepted you as His own. But He did not stop there.  He did not say, “Now, sit here until I come back for you and take you to Heaven.”

1) God put His Holy Spirit within you. He indwells you.  He is with you. He enables you and empowers you.  (See John 7:37-39; Colossians 1:27; and a hundred other texts.)

2)  He sealed you with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).  You are locked in.  You cannot accidentally fall out of salvation. According to John 10:28-29, no one and nothing can “snatch” us out of His hand. We are saved forever.

3) He gave you the Holy Bible to instruct you (2 Timothy 3:15-17, among other texts). We are not on our own, left to our pooled wisdom. We have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).

4) He gave you brothers and sisters to nurture you, teach you, and to provide a milieu for growth and service.  This is the Church.  (See Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:40-47; Ephesians chapter 4.)

5) He gave you an assignment, work to do in this world, starting with the Great Commandments (love God, love your neighbor–Matthew 22:37-39) and the Great Commission (spread the gospel)–Matthew 28:18-20.  See also Acts 1:8.

6) He promised to use our labors and to reward our service. This gives us a hope for the future. See Hebrews 6:10 and 2 Timothy 4:8.  Also 2 Corinthians 4:1 where Paul says we do not quit since He has given us both mercy (the past) and a ministry (for the present and future).

7) He gave us a thousand assurances, revealed from one end of Scripture to the other  He is with us, He overshadows us, He undergirds us, precedes us, and is our rear guard.  He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and has prepared a place for us (John 14:2 and Matthew 25:34).

We’ve got it made in the shade, friend.

And, to press the metaphor just a little further, the Lord Jesus Himself is our Bridge between heaven and earth.  Talk about redundancy!

He is able and more than able to bear our burdens, hear our prayers, heal our diseases, meet our needs, help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), lead us in the path of righteousness (Psalm 23:3), and forgive our sins.  All the fulness of deity dwells in HIm (Colossians 2:9), and as a result, we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

The entire book of Hebrews was written to show the superiority of the Lord Jesus over all the old things–whether angels, prophets, priests, sacrifices, everything.

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  You look at Jesus and you see God.

He pardons all our iniquity, heals all our diseases, redeems us from destruction, crowns us with lovingkindness, and renews our youth like the eagle (Psalm 103:3-5).

When He died on the cross, our Lord Jesus nailed to the cross the charges against us, “making a spectacle of them, triumphing over principalities and powers” (Colossians 2:14-15).

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.  To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:28-29).

Words fail us. There are no words strong enough, no description broad enough, and no wisdom deep enough to say all that the Lord Jesus is.

He is sufficient for all our needs (2 Corinthians 3:5 and Philippians 4:19 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I have no expectation that all but a very few readers will look up all these references, but to those who do, God has blessings in store. And to those who need them, here they are.

You see now why we make so much of Jesus.  He is truly in a class by Himself.




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