Yesterday was a fine winter’s day and my children enjoyed being outside. Very near our house we have a stream that runs under a little wooden bridge. Typically the stream would be 3-4 feet wide and inches deep, but with heavy rains and interwoven branch debris the space under the bridge had blocked up and the water was 8-10 feet wide and pouring across the bridge. For my children this constituted high drama and the need for Dad’s help!
We poked, we prodded, we jumped on the branches causing the blockage. We levered, we hammered, we tugged . . . and after half an hour we’d dropped the water level by about an inch. As light faded it was either go home or try harder. Risking cold water entering my boots (I know, Dads are heroes), I got more aggressive. A few minutes later a larger branch was extracted and then I faced the granddaddy of them all, with a diameter of about 8 inches, this eight foot “twig” looked like a backbreaker. It wasn’t. It was rotten to the core and fell apart as I tried to lift it out.
The debris cleared and the water level dropped 18 inches (perhaps flooding the other side of town!) Job done.
Pondering this mini-adventure and community service escapade, I realized that while the situation looked harmless, it was not. Walking through a half inch of water on that bridge was no problem for the dog walkers and children passing by. But that rotten log told a different story. Without clearing the debris, that bridge would have gradually rotted to a dangerously weakened state.
John Stott described preaching as bridge building. We stand between two worlds and form the link between the two. The truth of God’s Word is conveyed to the needs of our world. I wonder if we live in a day when the ministry of preaching is threatened by some debris clogging up the space beneath and causing a dangerous gradual rotting to take place?
Perhaps as we head into this new year, it would be worth considering whether there may be some poking, prodding, stamping and debris clearing to be done around our preaching ministries. If clogged for too long, the bridges we seek to build could turn out to be only as strong as rotten soaked wood, unable to carry the weight of the burdens placed on them.
Tomorrow I’ll ponder some debris that may need some clearing to allow our preaching ministry to function as it was intended to function: for the transformation of lives and eternity, and the pleasure of our good God.