Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in their 40 years of working together. It began with a small misunderstanding and grew into a major difference. Eventually, the disagreement exploded into an exchange of bitter words, followed by weeks of silence.
One morning, there was a knock on the older brother’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days’ work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have some small jobs here and there that I could help with?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “As a matter of fact, I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my younger brother’s place. Last week, there was a meadow between us, but he took his bulldozer and dug a small river there. Well, I’m going to do him one better. See that pile of old lumber? I want you to build an 8-foot-high fence between our properties. Then I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.” The carpenter said, “Show me the nails and the tools, and I’ll do a good job for you.”
The older brother had business in town, so he left for the day, and the carpenter went to work. At sunset, when the brother returned, he went out to check the progress on the fence, but his jaw dropped in surprise at what he saw. There was no fence there at all. Instead, the carpenter had built a bridge that stretched from one side of the river to the other, complete with handrails and all!
The younger brother was coming across the bridge toward them, his hand outstretched. “You’re quite the guy,” he said to his brother, “after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers met in the middle, shook hands, and then embraced. When they turned to speak to the carpenter, they saw that he was leaving.
“No, wait!” said the older brother. “Stay a few days. I’ve got a lot of other projects for you.”
“I’d love to,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
When you and I come to the end of our days, God won’t ask what kind of car we drove, but He will ask how many people we helped get where they needed to go. He won’t ask how big our house was, but He will ask how many people we welcomed into our home. God won’t ask what neighborhood we lived in, but He will ask how we treated our neighbors. And He won’t ask how many fences we made, but He will ask how many bridges we built.