The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 2, 2013

This world needs more bridge builders

By Bev Davis

— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Jan. 2, 2010. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

Bridge-building has come to mind several times in recent weeks. It all started when I began humming an old tune from the ’60s or ’70s  — “Everything I’ve left behind each time I closed a door, burning bridges lost forevermore.”

Then I ran across a poem about bridge builders. A man was watching a crew tear down a bridge and remarked to the foreman how easily they seemed to be able to pull apart the metal and pins. The poem writer asked the foreman if he hired a special wrecking crew to work so efficiently. “Are these men skilled and the kind you would hire if you had to build?” The foreman laughed and replied, “No, indeed. Just common labor is all I need. I can tear down in a day or two what it took others years to do.”

The writer walked away contemplating whether he would spend his life building up or tearing down.

It sounded like good motivation for my goals for a new year.

I’m convinced the world needs more bridge builders. There are way too many broken relationships, too many people torn apart by negative circumstances and hateful words.

There are plenty of critics who rip churches, work places and homes apart, too few people to serve as connectors, helping to build healthy relationships.

We can’t leave it up to the therapists, pastors and counselors. There’s plenty of room for more of us to step up to the plate and commit ourselves to words and deeds that bridge the gaps caused by misunderstanding and downright meanness.

During this past year, I’ve met so many people who’ve either turned away from their faith in God or have no interest in pursuing a relationship with Him. In many cases, a believer with a harsh, judgmental attitude had run over them with spiritual track shoes.

Granted, folks can use that as an excuse, and each of us is responsible for the choices we make. Nevertheless, I’d like to see more nurturing and less nitpicking, especially in communities of faith.

By Jan. 1 each year, I have chosen a particular Scripture to serve as my guiding principle for the year ahead. The verse for 2010 comes from II Samuel 14:14  — “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him” (NIV).

That sounds like bridge-building to me. God hasn’t called me to be part of His wrecking crew. He’s called me to be a faithful construction worker, helping Him build bridges to the faith, love, hope and joy only He can give.