“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..and…a time to kill.”-The Teacher (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3 NIV)
“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”– Laurence J. Peter
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”– Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV)
The island of Cozumel, Mexico lies twelve miles out to sea, almost within eyeshot of the Yucatan Peninsula. The bright lights of Cancun are visible as a glow from just below the horizon on a clear night. I once vacationed close to the southern tip of the island, far from the lone city of San Miguel. To access civilization, we risked our lives on the only road that runs the western length of the island, hacked out of the jungle and dotted with construction zones that demanded our undivided attention.
In the States, our detours are clearly marked by flashing signs, orange cones, and workers in reflective vests. On Cozumel, road closures are denoted by smudge pots: 55 gallon drums of burning refuse that signal a detour by smoke and fire. No second chances, no “merge in one mile.” If you barrel past the barricade, brace yourself for a world of hurt: a broken axle, a flat tire, or a headfirst plunge into a sinkhole. Better to skid to a stop and go slowly around than tackle the smudge pot head-on. As much as I like the beaches in Mexico, I’ll take my Colorado highways any day.
Just a few weeks ago, I was navigating a reasonably smooth road with Jesus when, out of the darkness, a barrel of burning refuse appeared on the bridge between me and my family in Florida. If you read my post on July 24 (One Fell Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest), you know my family basket has more nuts than fruit. In the years since my childhood, since my father died, even since my brother Matt died, I’ve prayed with all my heart for more than an uneasy peace; I’ve hoped for a healthy reunion of the three remaining adults. Now the news of a family betrayal has rendered that hope impossible. I skidded to a stop at the barricade, heartbroken that the other two made a pact that would turn their backs on me forever.
Needless to say, my first impulse was to kick over smudge pot at the base of the bridge, igniting the pylons and illuminating the night sky with my outrage and grief. I wanted to see it go up in flames. I wanted to sever the connection once and for all. Killing any chance at reconciliation would prevent them from ever breaking my heart again. Only one obstacle stood in the way. For years I’ve asked Jesus to walk ahead of me on the span between here and Florida. Now He won’t leave.
“I’m crossing this bridge for you. Just pray and wait. Here’s a list of things to do until you hear from Me. This should keep you busy.”
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NIV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
Well isn’t that just like Jesus! My heart is broken, and the bond is severed. Jesus, get off the bridge! The flames are burning on my end and that’s the way I want it. I’ve had enough. Please come over to this side and help me move on with my life. I need You.
“Do you not remember pleading with Me on your family’s behalf? Besides, look where you are standing. Like it or not, they are still your family. You are still on the bridge. I’m not asking you to do anything but pray and wait. Acting in haste and anger will only fuel the flames even as you set your own feet on fire. You prayed that I would work this out for their good and My glory. Do you trust Me enough to let go of them and allow Me to work? Do you love Me enough to surrender your hurt? I know how it feels to be betrayed. I love you and have your best interests at heart. This will probably take a while, but trust Me.”
With that, He turned and walked into the darkness on His way to Florida.
With the sunrise came on onshore breeze, scattering the ashes from last night’s blaze. I’ve decided to wait and pray, one day at a time. After all, I’d hate to set my feet on fire.