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The Commonality of Bolts & Christians

Fifteen years and twenty nine days ago marked the Big Dig ceiling collapse that occurred on July 10th, 2006. In this tragic incident, a concrete ceiling panel weighing 3 tons & measuring 20 by 40 feet fell in Boston’s Fort Point Channel Tunnel. The panel fell on a car traveling on the two-lane ramp connecting northbound I-93 to eastbound I-90 in South Boston, killing a passenger and injuring the driver. The collapse caused a section of the tunnel to be closed for almost a full year. The investigative findings noted that a contractor had used an epoxy that was inferior to secure the bolts in the panels and the bolts failed to hold. It has been reported through findings of the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement that bolt failures are a major problem in many industries causing serious hazardous situations. The findings in all of the research are quite fascinating as published in numerous articles. Bolts do that which Christians are supposed to do: hold things together (cf. Ephesians 4:16).

The reasons that bolts fail, as those who have investigated and reported such findings, are actually the same reasons spiritually that Christians fail. Researchers and Investigators have identified four reasons as to why bolts fail. It may be through our own examination of our lives, that these reasons are the underlying cause as to our spiritual decline. It is quite important that we look long and hard at these areas, because although the Big Dig ceiling collapse of 2006 was tragic, it will be eternally tragic for us, as well as those whom we influence, if we don’t examine often what could possibly be giving way in our spiritual life.

The first reason that is given as to why bolts fail is due to the bolts being overstressed. Have you ever had an object that had bolts holding it together and as time went on that the object didn’t seem as stable as it started out? You happen to find the object sometimes wobbling, and upon looking closer you discovered that there was apparent tension being placed on a bolt and the bolt became deformed permanently and bent out of shape.  What happens is that due to the overstress and tension the bolt is receiving, such causes the bolt to stretch, being strained. I think we grasp this fairly easily. We use words like “stress” and “bent out of shape” in the language of our day and time. If we have A LOT going on, a HEAVY LOAD, such as a bolt, it will NOT maintain and hold-up. Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 6. Jesus wanted us to be ever-careful as the anxiety of this world, the worries of this world will strain us, stretch us thin to render us ineffective for Him and His cause (cf. Matt. 6:25-33).  Jesus is wanting us to be aware of this faith issue, that such anxiety/worries only bring about a failure of faith. Jesus many times told His disciples “O ye of little faith” as they failed to recognize and acknowledge the power of God.  Cares will choke out and kill our faith (cf. Luke 8: 14). The cure for worry lies in the fact that we are not left to face life alone, we face it with God (cf. Phil. 4:6,7; 1 Peter 5:6,7).  I will add here as well that we have each other. That is God’s design. As Christians, we are able to help each other. To help hold something together, I’m sure we have all used a few more bolts so the load will be lightened on the others (cf. Galatians 6:2).

The second reason that is given as to why bolts fail is due to “fatigue.” Due to the repeated stressors upon the bolts, the bolts begin to crack and fail. I think we understand how things progress from overstressed to fatigue. When someone says that they are in a “state of fatigue,” they are saying that they are at complete exhaustion, that they are WEARY! It is reported that 85% of bolt failure is attributable to fatigue and I believe that fatigue is attributable to a high percentage of spiritual failure in the Lord’s church. We have to understand that fatigue doesn’t just happen or occur over night, rather it is a process that occurs “slowly but surely.” When I think of fatigue, I think of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. As I read about all the encounters that he had with the wicked of the world and how he was despised by Jezebel who sought after his life, I think I would have been exhausted too! Although God had done many wonderful things in Elijah’s life, Elijah became burned-out. We find Elijah in 1 Kings 19 sitting under a juniper tree in verse 4, “praying that he might die, and said, It is ENOUGH! Now, Lord, take my life for I am no better than my fathers!” In response, the Lord’s gentle voice came to Elijah and provided assurance that he was not alone. That not only was God with him, but there were 7000 in Israel who had not bowed their knees to Baal. One of the things that always stood out to me, whether it was Moses or Elijah, the command has always been to “go.” Knowing that God was with them and that He was their vitality and strength. It is so easy to become like Elijah today. It is so easy to become weary in doing good. However, God’s voice still today is saying to us, “go” (cf. 2 Thess. 3:13; Gal. 6:9).  Paul is telling those at Thessalonica and Galatia and us today that if we are not careful, we will get tired, our strength will be relaxed and enfeebled through exhaustion. Paul encourages us through these words saying we will reap in due season “if we don’t lose heart.”  I remember when I was taking classes to become an EMT and even in the academy to become a police officer that the instructors would provide the estimated time in which one would “burn-out,” become so fatigued with all that saw and dealt with, although you were out there doing good, one would wonder if it was all worth it. I have reached stages as a preacher, as a medic, as a police officer where I was in that “state of fatigue.” I had to remember the reason I was doing that work. It wasn’t just for some paycheck at the end of the 2-week pay period. It was to make a difference in the lives of those who lived around me. We become fatigued as Christians when we forget the purpose of our calling. I want to receive what has been promised to me, and to do such, I have to keep on keeping on, keeping the fire burning to do the will of God (cf. Heb. 10:36).

The third reason that has been cited for bolts failing is due to corrosion. This means that the bolts are being worn away gradually, having been exposed to chemicals and/or other contributing agents of the environment which gnaw away and eventually deteriorates to the point of failure. In Luke 8:14 Jesus said that not only the cares of this world that will choke one out, but also the “riches and pleasure of life with no fruit being produced to maturity.”  I’m sure we have all at one point or another seen something that belonged to us corrode. The surrounding environment gnaws away at the metal to which it deteriorates. The same happens to us as Christians being influenced by the corrosiveness of this world, called sin. (cf. 2 Peter 2:18-22; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:10; 2 Peter 1:4). Having escaped the corruption, the corrosive ruin that this world brings, we must keep ourselves away from the world and its corrosion (cf. Eph. 4:21-24).

The fourth reason cited for bolts failing is due to embrittlement. Ultimately, the bolt being overstressed, bent out of shape, being gnawed away, deteriorating, the bolt finally, becomes so brittle that it begins to crack and snap due its fragile state and the bolt fails to hold. As with bolts, it happens to Christians who allow this gradual deteriorating process that leads to embrittlement in which we become very fragile in our attitudes, being offended, easily upset and crack and snap. This happens all too often as to why we need to hear the words, read the words repeatedly that as Christians we are to put on love, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (cf.  Col. 3:12-14; Eph. 4:1-3).  Unity only comes when we are spiritually minded, remembering our purpose that has been purposed in us through Christ Jesus as we all desire to walk in the light as He is in the light and to be workers in the vineyard of our Lord.

That horrific incident in 2006 certainly prompted questions such as, “how could it be that such could happen?” Well, what they thought would hold, would later prove them wrong. I found it interesting that according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), safety issues that were cited in the July 10th report included, “insufficient knowledge among designers and builders [on the project] of the nature of adhesive anchoring systems, lack of standards for testing those adhesive anchoring systems and for designing tunnel finishes, and inadequate tunnel inspection requirements.” The same happens today with man who, with insufficient knowledge seeking to build their own life on the sands of this world, and not firmly anchored to the one who created us, the ultimate designer who gave us the standard, the nuts and bolts if you will, to keep our lives together, to be able to inspect regularly according to that standard so we will be sure and certain that we will hold firm to the end (cf. Hebrews 3:6 ; 6:9-12). May we examine ourselves today whether we be in the faith, prove ourselves (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). Inspect right now what you are anchored to, and that you are not becoming overstressed, fatigued, corroded, embrittled. If you are feeling and failing under pressure, or are becoming spiritually fatigued (growing weary in doing good), having allowed the environment around you to corrode your spiritually, and are broken embrittled with God and others, give it to God, seek encouragement to persevere, to rid yourself of the corrosion that is going on in your life, to grow and go with the Lord and each other unified to be the good and faithful servants that the Lord so desires of all of us (cf. Ephesians 4:16).

Let us be firmly bolted, connected to the Lord and each other unified in His service. If I can be of any assistance to help you get connected in a relationship with the Lord, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂

About Author

DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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