If I were to build a bridge, I wouldn’t reach for a kite as my first tool. But Charles Ellet Jr. is a better engineer than me. The time is 1848 and the place is the Niagara gorge. Those who wander north from the famous falls will eventually come to the whirlpool rapids. As the name suggests, this is a section of the river inhospitable to boats or bridges. But as I mentioned, Charles Ellet is a good engineer. He was commissioned to erect a suspension bridge connecting Canada and the US; the first of its kind. He chose this site where the gorge narrowed to 1000 feet across the rapids 200 feet below. Like many things in life, beginning was the hardest part. How do you put the first cables across the gap? Boats – too dangerous. Helicopters – too science fiction (remember, it’s 1848). Charlie held a contest to see who could fly a kite across the gorge. Homan Walsh won the $5 prize on the second day. He let the winds blow his kite from the Canadian shore to friends on the American side. The kite trailed a slender thread which they quickly tied to a tree. A larger string was tied to the thread and pulled across. A cord was then transported and became the means to get a rope across. The rope led the way for a steel cable and the cable became a bridge (and we all have just passed our first year of engineering). So, what is the point of the paragraph apart from dull party conversation?
Many matters of life have very small beginnings. As a prayer pilgrim, my efforts at consistency, silence, focus and faith often feel feeble. They are threadbare, too little to cross the expanse between Heaven and Earth. I am prone to berate my practice and belittle the discipline. The “too little” of my prayer life cannot support the “too much” of my expectations. So, I am tempted to quit and settle for the mundane machinery of Christianity I witness around me. It has taken me some time to recognize that God is building something larger on the threads of my obedience. When I don’t quit, but persist with hope – the threads become strings and the strings strengthen towards cords and cables. The shift is so slow that I see it only in hindsight (bridges are not built in a day). Whatever progress is made, is graced by God, who alone is the builder of souls. I am only a young boy holding on to the thread of a kite. But, the kite is carried by the winds of His Spirit to span the gaps of my life and connect my heart to Jesus.
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