“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
An article in the New York Daily, recounting the history of the Brooklyn Bridge, sites that, “Emily Warren Roebling (1843-1903) succeeded her father-in-law, John Roebling, and her husband, Washington Roebling, as the field engineer aiding her disabled husband to completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.” Roebling was an accidental engineer.
The bridge was the dream of her father-in-law, John Roebling. But three days into the construction one of his feet was badly crushed and he died in agony two weeks later after he tried to self-medicate using unsterilized water.
His son and chief assistant, Washington Roebling, took over for his dad. To place the foundations of the two towers that anchor the bridge, he designed enormous caissons filled with compressed air that enabled workers to dig beneath the East River. But soon laborers began coming down with the bends, a mysterious disease which laid Washington Roebling low as well.
Left paralyzed, deaf, and mute, Roebling directed the construction from his Brooklyn Heights bed and began relying on his wife to execute his orders. And as time passed, Roebling’s responsibilities increased.
In an era where rich women were expected to busy themselves in the background, Roebling was out front inspecting construction, dealing with contractors, and fencing with politicians and reporters.
“Mrs. Roebling applied herself to the study of engineering, and she succeeded so well that in a short time she was able to assume the duties of chief engineer,” a source the Times described as “a gentleman of this city well acquainted with the family” said. By the time the bridge had been built, Roebling — then 40 — had become the public face of the era’s most massive construction project. And she had not just helped connect Manhattan to Brooklyn, she forged a new path for other women.
In contrast, God’s design of our lives is no accident at all. In fact, His plans were laid out for our lives before the foundation of the earth, according to Ephesians 1:4. And in Jeremiah 29:11 we see that His plans for our lives are good and extremely purposeful. Just as Mrs. Roebling needed people to work with her in the building of the bridge, so our Heavenly Father wants us to work with Him in the building of our lives.
Today we can celebrate that we have an Awesome Builder committed to finishing what He started, and we can restfully work with Him toward its completion.