Just when I decide to get up and go, when I resolve to cross that bridge and move toward a wide open field and those greener pastures, right at my point of new beginning — there is a troll under the bridge.
Blocking my path, shouting words of intimidation, he is going to roast me, toast me, and eat most of me. His growls and threats keep me from crossing over, keep me in this dry land. Like a prison without walls, his words paralyze me and leave me to forage among the thorns for something to satisfy my hunger.
The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale that connects with most every child. We all remember what it was like to be bullied, to feel too small, and to look across the bridge at a green field we may never get to eat from. We have all carried the need for a big brother billy goat to fight our troll for us.
And then we grew up. And the stories that once brought us comfort began to gather dust on our shelves as we set out to fight our own battles, to cross our own bridges, and find our own green pastures. It didn’t take long before a few disappointments and one too many betrayals left us standing again in a barren field.
Once again, we muster what little courage remains, surprised by the familiar “tip tap” of our feet as we try to cross that bridge. And once again the roar gurgles out, “Who’s that crossing my bridge? I’ll eat you up!”
Maybe I should just stop these foolish attempts, maybe I should just give up and come to terms with living a small unsatisfied life in this mundane world. Or maybe not.
Maybe I should head back to the bookshelf. Maybe I should dust off that old children’s story and remember how it goes one more time. Maybe I should remember that I do have a big brother, and He did knock that troll into oblivion, and I can cross that bridge!
Those shouts from under the bridge are only echoes, a fleeting voice trying desperately to maintain its grip of fear over you. Those words have lost their teeth. They can bark, but they can’t bite you anymore. That old troll is not still under the bridge.
So today is the day. It is time to get up. It is time to cross that bridge and enjoy the green pastures that wait for you on the other side. It is time to go.
“So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:11-15)