Stronger at the broken places, Part 2

Stronger at the broken places, Part 2

I was mulling over this thought while cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast the other morning when someone knocked loudly on the back door: “We are here to work on the pier and did not want the noise of the machines to frighten you.” I had forgotten that a crew of big, strong men was to arrive that morning to rebuild and strengthen the 256-foot pier that goes out into Dickinson Bayou on Galveston Bay where my friend lives.

I love that old wooden pier and have enjoyed many a quiet hour sitting with my feet dangling in the water, fishing, or holding the rod while I thought, and I have enjoyed landing some good fish out of those same waters. My last catch the other afternoon when I was fishing by myself was a beautiful red — just the right size for frying up in the pan along with some potatoes and Georgia hushpuppies. I love the water and this is one of my favorite places to just be and to think.

The pier is quite old by some standards, but in relatively good shape. Hurricane Ike, that bad boy that visited in 2008, did some damage, but structurally, the pier was sound. We have added a new top deck, which I love because I can see across the water for great distances. It is kind of like finally having the treasured tree house I always wanted as a young girl. I can take the book of the day, a cold Pepsi, my towel, run up the steps to the tallest point, and stay up there for hours in peace and delight.

I was fascinated about what the workers were there to do. Two big barges, one tugboat, and a smaller boat were all tied up to our dock. Two or three trucks were in the drive. My friend and I walked down to the pier and on one of the barges were 10 big, new pilings. I knew the pier was a bit shaky in a couple of places, but I never knew why. My friend and the owner of the company walked up and down and on the landing, measuring, pointing and discussing. Soon, a big machine picked up one of the heavy timbers and, guided by another workman, dropped that piling into the water upright. It was very close to one of the damaged pilings. I thought, “What in the world? How will they ever get that big piece of wood to be still?” Now, I had seen pilings driven into dirt on Bolivar as homes were being rebuilt, but never in the water.

I watched in amazement as the owner then got into the cab of the machine that was sitting on the bigger of the barges and turned on the engine and then began moving a big, swinging bucket toward the pier. His foreman guided him expertly and then he raised the bucket and began hitting the top of the piling. I watched as it appeared to get smaller and smaller. I then realized that it was going down into the soft bottom of the bay. He did that nine more times and then the work really got serious. The workers took great long bolts, huge waterproof drills, and systematically secured the new timbers to the pier. When I walked back to the house for some cool drinks for the crew, not a single shaky step was made. It was as if the pier were brand new again. I had to look to see where the broken pilings had been.

It was, in my mind, a perfect illustration of how people and things can be made stronger at the broken places. Arrangements had to be made, people had to be employed, and materials delivered, but once it all came together, the pier is as good — or better — than new, and will stand many years of happy feet running out to fish, get into the boat, or just sit and enjoy the water. We must allow God to mend the broken places in our lives and trust that in our new strength, we can go forward and serve Him and others. We can be stronger in our own broken places by the grace of God.