This week’s scripture us one that runs through my mind quite frequently. I think our human minds can hardly comprehend how much our Father really loves us. For me, the fact that He created a plan for us to come to earth, to learn and grow and experience so much is the first testament of His love for us. Then to make a provision to save us from our mistakes and our weaknesses during our experience here by willingly sacrificing His own beloved Son in our behalf is the second and most profound testament to me. I think about my own limited ability to love and how much I cherish my own children. And I think about how much I love those who love my children and sacrifice so much to help them in so many ways. Then I think about how much Heavenly Father must love His only begotten son especially because of His willingness to sacrifice on behalf of the rest of us His children, whom He loves. It is so beyond my ability to understand!
As I pondered on this during the week a poem I read years ago popped into my head. I cry every time I read it. It helps my human mind have a glimmer of understanding as I can have real empathy to the father in this very vivid incident.
There was once a bridge which spanned a large river. During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river paralleled with the banks, allowing ships to pass thru freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river, allowing a train to cross it.
A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place as the train crossed. One evening as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance thru the dimming twilight and caught sight of the train lights. He stepped to the control and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance when he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but, to his horror, he found the locking control did not work. If the bridge was not securely in position it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came onto it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This would be a passenger train with many people aboard. He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a lever switch he could hold to operate the lock manually. He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed. He could hear the rumble of the train now, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man’s strength.
Then, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control shack, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. “Daddy, where are you?” His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first impulse was to cry out to the child, “Run! Run!” But the train was too close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time. The man almost left his lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety. But he realized that he could not get back to the lever. Either the people on the train or his little son must die. He took a moment to make his decision.
The train sped safely and swiftly on its way, and no one aboard was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They did not see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked: to tell his wife how their son had brutally died.
Now if you comprehend the emotions which went this man’s heart, you can begin to understand the feelings of our Father in Heaven when He sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died? How does He feel when we speed along thru life without giving a thought to what was done for us thru Jesus Christ?
I recognize that there are significant differences between the sacrifice of the father in this story and the sacrifice made by our Father in His divine Son. But it does help me remember the love that our Father has for each of us individually and how that love has been given a tangible form through His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I do, however, hope that we are unlike the passengers on the train and don’t sail along through life without sincerely acknowledging and appreciating the sacrifice that has been made in our behalf.
If you have yet to feel that potent and distinctive love of God for you personally, I urge you to get on your knees and ask God how He feels about you. My answer to that question is one that still brings me to tears whenever I think of it. I know He loves me! I know He loves you! He has a special plan for each of His children and that plan’s fruition is completely and utterly dependent on His Only Begotten Son!
May we each take some time to ponder on this love as we enter the Christmas season.