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Managing the Tension

Suspension bridges are among the most beautiful of human fabrications. I am not an engineer and cannot speak to the advantages of such bridges. All I know is that they are wonders. And I also know that they do what they do because the tension in the wires is perfectly matched between the towers. Perhaps I am fortunate to have experienced the wonders of suspension bridges across America, from the Golden Gate to the Verrazano Narrows, as well as an amazing single tower bridge across the Ohio river (see

I drive slowly across such bridges in the right lane, straining my neck to look as straight up as possible. It is amazing! However, perhaps you have seen the old movie of an early suspension bridge that was caught by the wind and its rocking increased simply because of its own situation until it was destroyed. Further, it is likely that thousands of workers have died while making such bridges. Indeed, Mr. Roebling, who invented the machine to wind the wires to make the cables, thus making such bridges possible, died during the construction of his most famous bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge. Still, I have never felt any fear, or any anxiety as I crossed such a marvelous span. It just feels very strong and solid; all because of the tension maintained by the wires.

The Lord tells us that perhaps His main effort on our behalf is maintaining our spirit in a perfect equilibrium between the forces of hell and heaven. This is particularly tricky because He never gives power to the evil side. Humans invented evil, and we each give evil spirits power over us. So the Lord has to be constantly adjusting the tension He is applying through heaven as we pass through the many states of life. Now, He is not playing some game with us. He is not enjoying our trials. He is never vindictive, for instance, letting the pressure of heaven be just a little bit less, just for a moment, although it can feel that way to us! It is more likely that we would claim that He did, just so we can blame the Lord for our troubles!

Perhaps it would be helpful to picture the Lord as the perfect bridge designer, builder and maintainer. He designed humans with three anchor points: soul, spirit (mind) and body. Our soul is His domain; that is where His love is anchored; we are not ever conscious of it and cannot manage it. Our bodies, as the opposite anchor, cannot be conscious, yet (unless there is something else interfering) we have complete control of this anchor. Our spirit, our conscious life, is in the tower in between, held in place by the pressures from either side. We are conscious of the thoughts and feelings of our spirit, and we have control of some of our mind’s operations. This design provides both for our individuality and for the influence of the Lord. We are His creatures AND we are our own, eternally existing being. We are radically free AND able to reject the influence of love and truth that is the source of our freedom.

This is amazing. Sometimes, I just have to go slowly, emotionally and cognitively, and appreciate the beauty of the human constitution. Often I don’t really know how life works, especially as I watch others who are filled with a joy I have yet to experience; or when I see someone destroying them selves and I can only sadly wonder why. All I know is that, from my experience, from the descriptions of life others give me, and from what the Word says, there is a perfect tension preserved by the Lord that makes the whole thing work.

It is futile for me to try to “do” something about the tension I feel in my life. It is always going to be there. To resist it is to seek to interfere in the Lord’s work of providing for my salvation. The better course is to find ways to remind myself that the tension is holding my spirit in place, providing for my freedom, and for the possibility of choosing to give in to the power of heaven rather than hell. A tool I am currently experimenting with is the phrase “It’s all good!” Try it, and see what happens to your thoughts and so your feelings at any moment of stress. And let me know!

Precursor October 2006