It’s a place where the Rogue River disappears underground into a lava tube and bursts out the other side creating a “natural bridge” over the river.
It’s a stunningly gorgeous area.
I find refreshment and restoration for my soul just being there.
However,some folks I know won’t go there at all.
It’s a very dangerous place for the careless…people who fall in don’t come back.
A lot of people have fallen in.
Sometimes there are even posters attached to one of the magnificent firs with a picture of a loved one whose body the family hopes to recover.
Despite the fact that it is now fenced off and the trails are paved, the risk is still too much for some.
They miss a great deal of beauty, but they stay safe.
They cannot experience the joy I know, because they fear what could befall them if they journey where I do.
So it is for some with the church.
Bad things have happened there…maybe to them, maybe to someone dear.
Sometimes a word has scared or scarred them…perhaps they know that every time the preacher speaks of hell someone they loved with all their heart might be there if the word is correct.
They try not to listen to that word…it’s too painful to bear.
Perhaps a a beloved child is gay and and they wish that the people they worship with loved them too.
The rejection of the baby they raised is too painful to bear, so they try not to listen to that word.
They stay on the fringe and observe…and they fellowship with others standing on the fringes with them.
They believe, but to hear all the word is too painful to bear.
They do not reject my Christ, they simply can’t carry all that might accompany how we define what belief looks like in fullness.
When I go up to Natural Bridge I always take pictures of what I saw to bring back those who won’t go themselves.
I speak of the sights and smells and the peace I find so someday they may feel strengthened to experience it too.
It has been my practice to spend time on the fringe of the church showing pictures of beauty seen with those outside the mainstream to show them the same.
I assume that where they are today may not be where they are tomorrow…we travel from grace to grace and faith to faith.
I’ve been showing some folks close to me pictures of Natural Bridge for over twenty years…
A couple are thinking about joining me on my next trip.
“a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3 ESV)
Make your own application…