[continued from part 1]… The couple now had a relationship, a bridge, that could usher them onto the Big Island. They gathered up their babies and ran over, hearts racing faster than their feet to the promise of finally belonging.
A sign greeted them: Welcome to the Big Island. We are glad you have joined us.
But the Big Island was empty. And the couple couldn’t find the “us” anywhere.
The waterfalls were painted on cardboard.
The flowers were cut from magazine pages and crumbled when their babies tried to pick them.
The paper birds were hung with strings.
The couple wasn’t about to give up, though. They had learned long ago to keep trying and trying and trying. And so, each day, they would gather up their babies and race over to the Big Island to search for the “us,” the community where they could belong. They read the signs: Join us at 9am and Get plugged in here at our festival and How can we pray for you? But the couple’s voices echoed when they tried to ask for the “we.” Where were the people behind the signs?
Then one day, there was a scheduled activity near the too-blue waterfalls. The couple had read about it on a sign, and they arrived early to see the “us” and the “we.” And the people came! They came in flocks greater than the birds. They smiled, and they laughed, and no one was ever sad. The Activity was to learn about waterfalls and birds and flowers. The couple sat down with the others and listened very carefully. But, they really wanted to stand up and invite everyone back to their Tiny Island to see it all in real-life – the waterfalls and birds and flowers. But after the Activity, almost everyone vanished.
A few people remained, like the lady who had built the bridge out from the Big Island. She hugged the couple and told them she wanted to be friends. She came over to the couple’s Tiny Island to visit once in awhile, and she sat for hours among the birds and flowers, watching the waterfall on their Tiny Island. And there were others on the Big Island who smiled at them and always told the couple how happy they were to see them. But that only happened when the couple came to their Activities.
Still, the couple was relieved because they were finding “us,” and they pushed themselves harder and harder to find more “us” on the Big Island. They made trips not once but two or three times everyday to the Big Island. They attended all the Activities. They found ways to work on the Big Island, hoping to make friends. They joined work teams to make the Activities even more beautiful and more special. They picked up brushes and painted bigger and better and bluer waterfalls. After all, the Big Island people said it helped to make people feel welcome. And so the couple stayed there from sun up until sun down because they knew after they found “us,” they would finally belong.
Then one day, the other bridge-builder told them she had to leave the Big Island and move to another place. She would be moving far away, somewhere with waterfalls and birds and flowers, she said. The couple went back to their Tiny Island, back to the rocks, and back to whispering about where to belong. They went back to building their own starts of bridges, day after day. Sometimes, they would connect with another builder from the Big Island, but the bridges were never strong enough and eventually give way to the sea.
Because relational bridges must be mutual and multiple lanes wide.
And then something unexpected happened. One evening, as the sun began to sink lower, an angry storm swept up. The sky became dark, and the waves grew large. The couple was afraid… [This tale continues with part 3 tomorrow]
This month’s series is on being a bridge-builder. In short, it’s about how to be like certain individuals who let God show up in their words and deeds and forever changed our little family. But, it’s not a series about our story; it’s a series about how Redemption made our story useful, even valuable, in a greater story.
If Jay and I know anything about being a bridge-builder, it’s because we were the ones stuck on an island. If we understand anything about the power of meeting people where they are and standing in the gap, it’s because that’s how we were rescued – by God, through average people.