There is a story about a boy named Robbie, a man called Mr. Grover, and a bridge that was washed out. Both of Robbie’s parents had died. Robbie lived for a while in the almshouse, but now he stayed with a poor Christian widow. The widow loved Robbie with the love of Jesus. Soon he was a believing follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, too; and by the Lord’s saving grace live a changed life of obedience that comes from the faith of Lord Jesus.
Now Mr. Grover was a wicked man and spoke mean things about Robbie. He wanted to try to prove that Robbie had not really changed. Robbie had to pass his house to get across the only bridge that connected the Neck (an island-like piece of land) they lived on, to the main land where the town was. Mr. Grover would call him names; putting him down in regard to his past, then send his vicious dog out to attack Robbie, making him run for his life until he could hardly run another step.
But Robbie didn’t want to be the old boy that he used to be. He wanted to let the light and love of Jesus live in his heart without any un-forgiveness toward Mr. Grover. One day there was a very bad storm on the Neck, and someone had told Robbie that the center of the bridge where the horse and wagons crossed (this is a story from the 1800’s) was washed out, leaving only the footpath useable. Robbie knew Mr. Grover would be coming back from the market with his horse and wagon. Unless someone warned him, Mr. Grover would plunge into the turbulent waters and be washed out to sea –to suffer forever the torments of Lake of Fire.
Although it was now nighttime, and the storm was still raging in the form of bitterly cold snow; Robbie crossed the now-dangerous footpath to wait on the town side of the bridge to warn Mr. Grover not to cross – to warn the one who said terrible, unkind things to and about him; to warn the one who persecuted and tormented him. Because a fork in the road meant that there were 2 possible routes Mr. Grover could take from town to get to the bridge that led home, Robbie would have to continue to wait at the bridge in the wet, bitter cold. First his feet, then his hands, and then his whole body racked with pain. He wondered whether he would die before he had a chance to warn Mr. Grover. For 3 hours he waited, to warn the one who hated him. Finally Mr. Grover came! At first he began to deride Robbie, but finally heeded his warning that the bridge was out. The next day; when Mr. Grover saw the broken bridge in the light, he realized that Robbie had saved his life.
Robbie had loved his enemy with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ –the Love that means forgiving, suffering; being willing to lay down one’s life, return good for evil, and blessing for insult and cursing. Being out in such bitter, bone-chilling cold for hours caused Robbie to get very sick and almost die. For months his body was wracked with excruciating pain as he lay in bed with a certain type of fever. Even the weight of the blankets was almost too much for him. As Mr. Grover witnessed the suffering that Robbie was still going through –for his sake; the sake of the very one who hated and was mean to him, the Lord humbled his hard heart, and he surrendered his life to the saving Power and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Mr. Grover became a brand new person who now himself loved people with the love of Christ!
Dear Reader, now let us examine ourselves. Would you and I have been willing to wait 3 hours in a frigid weather that would result in near death and an almost unbearable pain? We might say, “Well, maybe for my friends and family.” But how about for our enemies? “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven… ”
Is the love of the Lord in our lives as evidence (fruit) of being truly born again and made a new creature in Christ? “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:1-5).” The Heavenly Fathers commands are for His children to be as He is (like Father like son): to love and forgive. Un-forgiveness toward others is like a missing pillar of repentance to experience the Bridge of God’s Grace with its forgiveness of our sins in our own lives. (“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”) Have we allowed the bridge of forgiveness, through the blood of Jesus Christ, be a reality in our lives, or is it still washed out? The Lord says to examine ourselves in the Light of God’s Word to see whether we are in the Faith. Do we have ill will or bitterness in your heart toward anyone?
It takes the power of Jesus Christ to be forgiven. It also takes the power of Jesus to forgive; and love –to forgive like Jesus who prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” even while they were still doing it. And what were they doing? Crucifying Him out of envy, while thinking they were doing God a service. Dear Reader, have you experienced God’s “bridge” of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, which has resulted in a changed life –a new life –to eternal life? Or are you holding on to the “broken bridge” of un-forgiveness that will end in eternal damnation?