Listen, my friend, and I will tell you a tale of a secret world far way. None of you may have seen this world before, but I would imagine it is very much like your own. There is green grass, blue skies, many kinds of animals big and small, mountains, bodies of water, and people who live on it. However, there are some big difference to this world that makes it very unique and one reason in particular. Above the land, another land hangs upside-down in the air directly above. People inhabit both lands, and the two are sometimes so close together that people’s heads nearly touch when they pass by.
The environment of one world is lumpy and difficult to walk on, and thick gloomy fog often makes it hard to see anything clearly. However they can still see the people and talk with them. The folks on this land often point and laugh at the upside-down people, but most of them do not tease back and will ignore them or treat them friendly. Some secretly envy the joy they have and search for a way to get there, with a few that succeed and choose to remain. It is a mystery to many how they get there and a bigger one how they can stay up without falling.
A certain young man who lived on the unstable land had to know what was so great about this mysteriously inverted land and why anyone would choose to stay there. He looked up and spotted some young boys and girls playing a game upside-down in the grass. Would they know? If they could make it there, surely it couldn't be that hard.
“Hello there, children! How are you?” he called to them. “May I ask you a question? How did you get up there and why do you stay? Don’t you feel sick hanging upside-down?”
A boy stopped what he was doing and turned to face him. “No sir, it is wonderful down here. We are very happy and live without fear.”
Why did they talk so funny? he wondered. And what do they mean ‘down here’? But he didn’t want to argue and pushed the thoughts aside. “Oh really. Well, do you know how I can reach your place?
A girl answered, “If you want to know how you can cross the ridge, all you must do is find the right bridge.”
“A bridge?” asked the man.
Another girl added, “It is a wonderful bridge built by the good king’s son. It is like no other craft that has ever been done. If to the prince you will get near, his bridge can surely take you here.”
“Ah, I’ve heard of that before. It sounds very strange to me. How can you go upside-down on a bridge? And what’s wrong with the other ways of getting there? I’ve heard about many fancy ways that can easily reach... uh... down there.”
Another boy quietly replied “Yes, many people have tried, but my parents say no other way can ever reach this side. Some go up, some go down, and some forever go around and around. Those that get close return to the ground, because a strong force keeps pulling them down. Just believe me and you will surely see that the bridge can do for you what it did for me.”
Only one way? The man couldn’t believe that anyone could believe that! How narrow-minded! But he had seen some people try other methods that took them nowhere, and heard friends tell him that other ways indeed didn’t work, and many of them now lived on the upside-down world. He would see for himself if they were right and find out for sure. If it wasn’t true then there had to be another way. What was there to lose?
“Thank you, children,” he said with a wave and turned to find the bridge.
A boy answered, “It would give us all great cheer for you to come and live with us here!”
As long as I don't have to talk like that, he thought with a laugh. The man didn’t know exactly where to find this bridge, so he found old friends on the land above to ask and they excitedly pointed the way. When he arrived at the described location he couldn’t believe his eyes. At the edge of the land sat a very old wooden bridge. It was painted red, held together with long metal nails and the boards were underlain with large solid rock. But the strangest part of the bridge was that after a few steps across the structure it curved 180 degrees into the sky and vanished in a cloud! How could anyone possibly walk across that? Was this a bad joke?
Someone standing by the bridge noticed his confusion and walked towards him. He was dressed in white and looked at him with eyes like fire and a face that shined like the sun. The young man was stunned by the sight as he spoke to him peacefully. “Welcome to Agape Bridge, my beloved. I am the prince of peace. I built this bridge with two large pieces of wood, giving up everything and all that I could to make a way back to the love they had lost. It was not an easy choice but definitely worth the cost. My father restored everything to me a hundred-fold, by reuniting me with my people young and old.”
As he spoke, the prince’s eyes penetrated the man’s soul like a knife and he felt completely exposed and filthy in his sight. Where could he hide? Where could he get away? But he also felt such an intense love that he had never felt before. Why do I feel this way? He thought. What’s wrong with me? Is he hypnotizing me? No, I can think just fine.
“I have waited for you to come for so long, to give you a new life and a brand new song. Will you put your faith in me and cross the ridge? Will you choose to cross Agape Bridge?”
He did not know what to think. It all sounded so unusual. But his love for him silenced all of his questions. After a moment of thinking the man answered, “Y-yes... you may take me across. Show me if it’s true. I want to believe.”
The prince gently took his hand and led him across the narrow bridge, just wide enough for both of them, and the man braced for himself to fall and land on his back. When they passed through the cloud the young man felt a strange feeling. It seemed as though his gravity was beginning to change! But they did not fall and now he felt lighter than before!
They soon stepped off the bridge onto solid ground, and the young man felt like a completely new person! New joy and peace flowed through him like a river and wonderful love warmed his soul like a gentle fire. The atmosphere here was so much better too! Everything seemed brighter, cleaner, the ground more stable and atmosphere more cheerful! How have I missed this for so long? He thought. Why did I stay in my old home until now?
Without thinking he immediately turned to the prince and embraced him with tears that seemed to never stop. The prince held him tight and smiled with closed eyes. He wiped away his tears and said, “Welcome back, my child, to Glory. This is the beginning of your brand new story. You must tell everyone you can about me and the great bridge I built to set them free. My father wants none to perish but for all to return to him. Tell everyone you can about me before the light goes dim. I will be with you always and assist you with this task. I will help you with anything whenever you will ask.”
The man nodded. “Yes, I believe and will do my best! It is the least I can do after how much I have been blessed.” I’m talking like them, he thought, and not even trying! But I don't care. My words sound so beautiful and meaningful now.
Looking up, he could see his old town more clearly and realized that the children were right! His old world was a floating island that was indeed upside-down! His eyes moved down in the distance and saw the king’s magnificent castle on a hill, with pillars that reached up and touched the other side. Somehow he realized that the castle was the only anchor that kept the island from flying away, and it wouldn’t hold it forever! He knew what to do and embraced the prince again and thanked him before running up the nearest hill.
He looked for his old friends above him and found them wandering around and stumbling as they walked, like he used to. He waved his arms up and down and called to them at the top of his lungs, “My friends! I have very good news! You must meet the prince. You have nothing to lose!”
And now, my friend, I must tell you that this story is true. Our world is upside-down and we all are too. I was the man in this great story, just another sinner far from Glory. Lost and now found. Blind and now could see. With His grace and my faith I was finally set free. The great sacrifice of the prince truly made a way, and He saved my soul from death that day. Will you meet him today and cross the ridge? Will you choose to step across Agape Bridge?
(The ideas for this story came from reading the Newsboy’s book “Shine” which mentions Donald B. Kraybill’s book “The Upside-down Kingdom” and the bridge from Greg Stier’s book “Dare 2 Share.” If I accidentally copied someone, it was unintentional.)