Bridges…Scary or Comforting?

By Marcy Barthelette

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7

I have a confession to make. I am afraid of heights and I’ve missed out on any number of opportunities over my life because of my

 paranoia. In my defense, I have quite a bit of company. According to studies, between three and five percent of the world’s population suffers from some level of acrophobia, an intense fear of situations that involve heights.

My family can attest that I fall within that description. When Ken and I visited the Statue of Liberty, I had to stop at the mezzanine level because I nearly hyperventilated going up the first set of stairs. In Gatlinburg, TN, Ken, and the kids decided we should ride the cable car up the mountainside. I objected strenuously but finally decided to try it. When we launched off the platform, Ken was certain I was going into cardiac arrest. And worst of all, my whole family loves roller coasters, but I stand by and watch. No one is going to talk me into that.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath you are the everlasting arms

Deuteronomy 33:27a


My fear of heights spreads into another area that gets a little sticky as we travel. Obviously, when traversing the country, from time to time, we encounter a bridge. Some are very high, some are very long, and we occasionally find a one-lane terror. The finest example of the one-lane bridge, in my estimation, is the historic Beaver Bridge in Beaver, AR. It is the only open suspension bridge in the state and is on the historic register. Now, this bridge is not high off the water, but it’s only one lane. And even though ARDOT provides good signage, my mind can conjure a host of scenarios in which man can make a mistake and if there is a car coming toward you, there is no place to go except to back up and hope there is no one behind you. So, despite its amazing beauty and historic significance, I’d rather skip it.

Some years ago, I visited Royal Gorge—now that is a very high bridge in Colorado. In fact, it’s the highest suspension bridge in the US and it’s for pedestrians only. I couldn’t even have a car under me to make a fast exit. The floor consists of 1292 wooden planks atop a steel frame, so I’m imagining rickety and rattling. It was one of those days when I was feeling extra adventurous and decided to give it a try. I stayed dead center of the bridge floor and did not look down and I actually walked halfway across, did a 180, and walked back quickly. And then my rubbery legs nearly collapsed under me. But I made it!

Last but certainly not least are two bridges near Cairo, IL, one spans the Mississippi, and the other crosses the Ohio River. Those are two big rivers, two tall bridges with long approaches, and lots of muddy, churning water beneath. When we plan a trip east, my first thought is can we possibly avoid those bridges and, if not, can I survive another crossing? So far, we’ve been lucky or blessed.

Obviously, most of us would prefer not to return to the days of fording rivers with a horse and wagon, nor would wait for a ferry to appeal to the masses of people traveling from Point A to Point B on any given day. Therefore, we need bridges to carry us across bodies of water and because I love to see interesting and beautiful places all over our country, I’ve had to learn to cope with my fears. The more exposure I have, the less fear I experience.

There is one bridge that doesn’t frighten me. It gives me comfort and hope. That bridge is named Jesus. Before His birth, no one could speak to God except the holy men, the priests. But on that day when Jesus died, the curtain between God and man was torn in half, no more intercessors were needed. We were offered a one-on-one relationship, conversations on a first-name basis. It’s a long and sometimes tumultuous journey through this life and we sometimes lose our way.


Remember. It is man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the bridge.

God Came Near— In the Manger

When we find ourselves over treacherous waters, we need a reliable bridge to get us to the other side, one that offers comfort and doesn’t instill fear. Come on along, let’s take a journey together on that bridge, but don’t try and drag me on any roller coasters, because I’m just not going!

As our praise band sang so eloquently last Sunday morning:

I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God! 

Except where roller coasters, and sometimes bridges, are concerned! Surely, He understands.

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