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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: The Drawbridge
By Dolores Stohler


As a small child growing up in the Windy City, I was greatly afraid of bridges. We lived near the Chicago River. In our neighborhood the river could only be reached by descending a steep wooden staircase to the riverbank where a colony of small wooden huts dotted the riverside at intervals. Here the fishermen sold their catch for the day.

When my mother wanted to buy fresh fish she would take me by the hand and we would walk to the river and descend the stairs to the bottom. But here I was on my own. I would follow Mom fearfully down that stairway, always wondering what would happen if I slipped on the wet stairs and tumbled to the bottom. I must explain now that I’ve always had a fear of heights and believe this is where it began.

Mother knew the fishermen by name and they greeted her cheerfully, holding up perch and bass and other choice specimens covered in slime and reeking of that pungent fishy odor that makes my stomach do a half-turn even to this day. I couldn’t wait to leave the huts and scramble up to safety.

Back then there was a huge amusement park on the other side of the river known as Riverview Park and it could only be reached by crossing a lengthy drawbridge. As much as I enjoyed the park, I truly dreaded the trek across the bridge in the company of my mom and brothers. I’d seen the way the bridge opened up in the middle to accommodate the passage of large boats down below.

There were always warning bells to alert cars and pedestrians to the danger of crossing the bridge while it was rising. In fact, there was a great deal of noise and a barrier came down as well. But, I wondered, what if they forgot to warn the people beforehand and the bridge opened up and everyone fell into the river? Laugh, if you will, but to a small child the possibility of this happening seemed terrifying real. Of course it never happened and I grew up to cross the bridge with confidence.

A bridge is something that needs to be crossed if we are to advance in life but sometimes we’re paralyzed by fear of the unknown. Like the drawbridge, even the middle can be scary. I remember watching a man try to cross a suspension bridge: he got halfway out, then looked down and couldn’t move an inch further. He clung to the side of the bridge where he remained until friends came to pry him loose and help him to safety

In my Christian walk, I was a lot like this man. In my youthful mind, I naively thought I could make it on my own. Unable to express my fears and dilemmas, I bottled them up inside and tried to present a confident face to the world. But the hurt did not grow away.

Then in 1973, after the death of my husband, I became a member of a great body of believers who helped me to grow in faith and get rid of the old bugaboos that had haunted me for so long.. If I’d had to make it on my own without the support of friends and loved ones, the bridge I crossed might have opened up like the drawbridge and thrown me into the rushing stream.

A bridge without supports will soon collapse and fall; and so it is with the Christian man or woman. United we grow in strength and are able to defeat the enemy. I know that I need to stay in touch with Christ through daily prayer but I also need the Church to help me ease the burden of my life in a world that denies His holiness.

“We who believe are carefully joined together with Christ as parts of a beautiful, constantly growing temple for God.” (Ephesians 3:21 TLB)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis 08/09/08
I like the descriptions of you accompanying your mother to buy fish. I would have liked to have seen that bridge.
Very nicely done.
Peter Stone09/10/08
An lovely testimony/devotional, where you brought forth many points to encourage us in our walk in life. Great tie in how the Church helps us to cross these bridges thrown in our path during our life.