By Heath Rainwater
About a year and a half ago I was standing underneath the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, looking up. There was a young man on top of the bridge precariously pacing back and forth on the wrong side of the rail. He was contemplating jumping as negotiators tried to say anything to change his mind. The young man grew more and more upset and impatient with the people trying to save his life. He began looking down.
I was on shift with my crew, Engine 18 from Ballard. Besides being a pastor, I am also a Seattle firefighter and that day we had been called to the bottom of the bridge for a possible suicide attempt. The church I pastor is only five blocks from that historical bridge; a bridge with the second highest suicide rate of any bridge in North America, second only to the Golden Gate Bridge.
I prayed that night very hard, that this man would not jump. My heart was heavy and I wanted so desperately to let this man know I loved him. After close to an hour on the side of the bridge, he jumped, and his body landed 20 yards in front of me. We started to move in as if there was something we could do, but there was now no hope for this man, barely 30 years old.
I climbed back into the cab of the fire engine as we started back for the station and my puzzled thoughts began to form a question in my mind: Why? Before I could say it, God answered me. He told me I was out of position. He told me he had not called me to the bottom of the bridge, but to the top of the bridge. He had given me the words of life, hope and love, and had put them in my mouth. That day, that man needed those words.
Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope!” If we could only see ourselves the way God sees us, through the eyes of perfect love and grace, it would destroy the case the enemy has against us. When Jesus shed his blood and was crucified on the cross, he bore the sins of each of us. He loves us even when we are failures and wretched. He paid the debt of our sin, which was death, fulfilling all of the requirements of the law. Christ became the eternal sacrifice for our sin. Our work is only to believe in Jesus and receive the gift of righteousness and everlasting life which he paid for with his blood. That is why there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. I hate condemnation.
Condemnation is what causes a person to have heavy feelings of guilt and disapproval. It makes a person believe the lie that they are unfit for use for anything or anybody. It decrees a final verdict of guilty and demands a sentence of death. But the good news is that God didn’t send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him might be saved. We are the righteousness of Christ and the devil has no case against us. And another thing – you cannot earn the gift of God’s grace. It is a gift, we just receive it. It is not a noble thing to carry feelings of guilt and sorrow for your past wrongs and sins. A person who will not forgive himself is refusing the gift of God’s grace and rejecting the blood he shed for our transgressions. Stop believing the devil’s testimony against you – you are free from your sin if you confess Jesus Christ.
When I found Christ, he changed my life. He changed my wailing into dancing, my life has never been the same. If I could have been on top of the bridge that day, I would’ve told that young man I loved him and that Jesus loves him completely.
Saturday, our church – along with many other churches, businesses and citizens in the Wallingford area – will bring the love of God to the Aurora Bridge. We are taking authority over the devil and destroying the stronghold of the enemy. I believe there is nothing more powerful than God’s love. So armed with this love, we are going to march in unity across the expanse of that bridge and destroy the works of the devil.
To learn more visit www.takebackthebridge.org.