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Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
By Gillian Dobson
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Living in what was then called Rhodesia, we spent many family holidays visiting the Victoria Falls and never tired of marvelling at the incredible spectacle of one hundred thousand cubic feet of water thundering over the lip of the Falls every second, the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The power of the water thundering down into the chasm it has carved in the basalt plateau, sends up a continuous spray of fine mist that rises 400 metres into the air and can be seen from 30 miles away. Nurtured by the spray the surrounding rain forest is filled with many plant species not commonly found in this part of Africa, such as ebony, ivory palms, pod mahoganies, creepers and lianas, and is home to a great variety of birds and animals.
David Livingstone, the renowned missionary doctor and first European to see the falls in November 1855, said of the sight, “No one can imagine the beauty of the view….scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” And indeed, the falls are an awesome and spectacular picture of God’s creativity and power.
Spanning the 250-meter gorge and linking present day Zimbabwe to Zambia on the northern bank of the Zambezi River, is the Victoria Falls Bridge. The single-arched steel bridge, which traverses the gorge just below the falls, was completed in 1905. It was the brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes who dreamed of opening a Cape-Cairo rail route, and insisted the bridge should be positioned near enough to the falls for the spray to fall on the train carriages crossing the bridge. For over a hundred years, the bridge has safely carried trains, motor vehicles and pedestrians across the dangerous chasm, and now, as the economic situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates and thousands are starving, the bridge is no longer merely a safe passage across the river, but provides a lifeline for many Zimbabweans who cross daily into Zambia to buy and barter goods for precious food with which to feed their families.
When I think about the gorge and the bridge and the impossibility of crossing from one side to the other without the presence of the bridge, I am put in mind of an illustration our Pastor often uses in Church, when he likens the effects of sin in our lives to that of a deep and wide gorge or chasm that separates us from God. No matter how hard we try, there is no human way to cross the divide. Though we may try to live exemplary lives in the service of others and even of God, our human efforts fall short. They are in vain, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment..” (Isa 64:6, NAS) How then might we cross the divide to a safe and sure place of relationship with the living and Holy God?
Just like the travellers who cross the Victoria Falls Bridge daily in their quest for life-sustaining food, we too have need of a bridge to God. And the Cross of Jesus is that bridge. Galatians 2:16 says: “..a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Christ Jesus..” and that includes the work of the Cross. With its vertical axis firmly planted in the churning waters of our sin, and its horizontal arms stretching across the chasm, as we put our faith in the Cross, we find it becomes the bridge beneath our feet leading us safely across the chasm of sin and into the life-giving presence of God.
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