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Build a Bridge

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict with each other. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without so much as a single cross word.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference until it fmally exploded into an exchange of words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock at John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a day's work," he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help you with? Could you use some help?"

"Yes." the older brother said. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he has done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence, an 8-foot fence, so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand what you need. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'm sure I can do a job that will please you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all day — measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all! It was a bridge — a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A beautiful piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched.

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all the things I've said and done. Please forgive me!"

The two brothers stood in the middle of the bridge shaking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've got a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.

"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build." How about you? Do you need to build any bridges?

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward