Pulling On a String

Recently, I read a fascinating story about the first suspension bridge constructed across the magnificent Niagara River Gorge.  The gorge is 825 feet across–and worse–200 feet straight down.  It was pre-1850 and all suspension bridges were suspect.  Even small bridges collapsed under the weight of light traffic, some carrying no more than humans and cattle.

But first things first.  Before they could worry about the bridge’s strength and durability, they had to deal with the initial problem.  How to get a cable across a span of 825 feet?  A helicopter would have come in handy at that point!

Here’s how they did it.  Charles Ellet, an  American engineer and showman who planned to build the bridge, offered any boy who could fly his kite across the gorge a five dollar bill.  He had plenty of takers on the first day, but no one who could claim the prize.  On the second day, one of the kites finally sailed across the gorge.  Workers on the opposite side tied the string to a cord which was then carefully pulled across the gorge.  With that complete, a larger cord was tied and pulled across. Then, workers tied a rope and finally a cable composed of Number 10-strand wires.  They had stretched the first cable over the Niagara River and across the Niagara River Gorge–an amazing feat.  And to think, it all began with a string.

Most big accomplishments begin with small events–like flying a kite across a gorge.  You may be wondering how you will ever solve your huge problems.  Could a string and a kite be the answer?  How will you ever live the way God wants?  How can you ever conquer your hurts, habits, and hang-ups?

Why not start with some small event?  How about showing kindness for one instance?  Why not go out of your way to be kind to a store clerk?  Or, plan to react positively rather than negatively when you confront your inevitable frustration.  Exchange patience and kindness for anger and bitterness.

Big changes come in small beginnings.  God wants to bring love, joy, and peace to your life.  Let Him have your life and your frustrations.  He wants to do good for you.  Start small and see God work in big ways.


  1. Eric
    Jul 14, 2011

    This is a great story that illustrates our forefathers’ ingenuity, and for you to relate it back to how something as simple as a string can positively impact the lives of everyone around us is incredibly insightful. Allegorically speaking i guess you could say “Where there’s a wind (will/Holy Spirit), there’s a Way (love, peace, joy, etc…)” Thanks Waylon!

  2. waylon
    Jul 14, 2011

    I am amazed at how they could get things done with simple solutions. It also reminds me that most of my problems are simple rather than complex.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” — Mark 9:35 (NIV)