Some years ago, a friend gave me a present that was a penholder and paperweight made out of a genuine chunk of the London Bridge. Until recently I had not realized the history of that famous bridge.
The London Bridge for which the song and nursery rhyme are named was a wooden bridge. In 1024 the Danes occupied London. Their main defense was on the London Bridge. To drive out the Danes, King Ethelred of England asked for the help of King Olaf of Norway. King Olaf had his men tie cables around the wooden supports of the bridge. The London Bridge came tumbling down and the city was saved.
When they rebuilt the bridge, they made it out of stone so strong it wouldn’t come down for hundreds of years. In fact, it lasted 900 years. The bridge survived World War II but in the late 1970s it was taken apart and reassembled in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Kids all over the world have played the game and sang the song about London Bridge falling down. The song reminds me of times when life comes tumbling down around us. I’m sure that’s the way many families feel when their loved ones go off to war. Lots of things can knock the supports out from under us. A sudden illness, a death, a financial setback, or trouble in the family, can leave us pretty flat.
When these bad things happen we can be strong part of the time but later weaknesses overcome us. We feel like we’re in the age-old struggle of good and evil. The Bible records many occasions of the battle between good and evil.
In the game London Bridge, some kids end the game with a tug-of-war contest. That’s exactly what we end up with as our world comes falling down — a tug-of-war between good and evil. We are being pulled in different directions. How will we react? Can we be strong enough to overcome the evil with good?
God’s side of this tug-of-war going on in the human soul might well be presented by a few verses in the book of Ephesians 2:4-6. “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with him.”
God raises us up when we fall down. The strength of God’s grace is our hope. God will rescue us and help us rebuild our lives. In the midst of our struggle, God is working. The most important thing is — God will be in the battle with us.
Someone pointed out that the word “evil” is the word “live” spelled backwards. In many ways, evil is the reverse of living. Only God has the strength to help us turn the word evil around and make it possible to “live.”
Prayer: Our Lord, when things fall down, give us faith to rebuild a little better each time. Amen.
Pastor Dan Safarik serves at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln.