A Bridge Too Far
By Marty Norman –
I love war movies. I don’t know what it is about them. Maybe it’s the heroism and courage. Perhaps it’s the reminder of a different time and place, when honor and integrity reigned, when a man’s handshake was his word. Either way, I try to watch them whenever they are on the movie channel.
One of my favorites is “A Bridge Too Far.” An epic war film, it relates the failure of the Allies to break through the German lines and seize a vital bridge for the German army. Some of my favorite actors were in it: Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, James Caan. Perhaps you’ve seen it?
The scene is the Netherlands following D-Day when the Allied supply lines and troops are bogged down and speed is of the essence. The Allies are not able to move toward Germany which has been their ultimate goal and strategy for winning the war. Drastic measures are in order.
A daring plan by Field Marshal Montgomery calls for the largest air assault ever attempted: 35,000 men are dropped behind enemy lines where the Allies plan to seize the bridge at Arnem and open up a road for the invasion of Germany. The overall plan is for paratroopers to take the bridge for two to three days until ground forces arrive and secure it. Speed is if the essence since this bridge is the last means of escape for the German forces.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes do not work. In this case the results are disastrous. There are many complications and the rendezvous is thwarted. Many die and are captured by the failure.
But isn’t that how life is? No matter how well we plan, no matter how meticulous we are in our preparation, some things just don’t work out.
Recently I invited my grandkids to Fort Worth for our annual decorating of the gingerbread house. A yearly tradition, I acted before I knew the date. Who could have known that date would coincide with tickets I had already purchased to a Broadway play in Dallas. The best laid plans of mice and men; certainly not equivalent to a battlefield disaster, but a grandchild disappointment certainly in the making.
What to do—lose the money for the show or disappoint the grandkids and break an eight year tradition that has been a blast in the making.
But never fear; Marme is here. Putting the old thinking cap on, I was able work it out. In one fell swoop I picked them up in Austin, arranged for a Saturday morning decorating “tee time,” set up an afternoon babysitter, attended the play in Dallas and was home in time for dinner. No flies on this grandmother.
Unlike “A Bridge Too Far” it was lucky for me that I worked out the details to everyone’s satisfaction. But how often does this scenario not work out? In this day of computers, digital texting and email, best laid plans often go awry.
But what a great lesson for me on planning, expectations, and adaptability! My experience made me think of our armed forces in the field. Then and now, they handle interrupted plans and schedules with dignity. In the field, maneuvers often don’t work as planned, but these men barely bat an eye. They know how to be flexible. Turning 180 degrees, they adapt themselves to the situation and move forward.
Isn’t that how we should be, hoping for the best while planning for the worst; best not to be too rigid when inflexibility gets the best of us. Better to have plans A, B, C, D and more. Whatever is needed in order to move forward.
So now when I under plan or over schedule, I always ask myself, “What’s going on here? Are you ready or is this a bridge too far? Better think this through one more time before someone gets hurt in the process.”
A bridge too far is now a code to me to stop, look and listen , to plan ahead but be willing to change plans at a moment’s notice. Best not to let expectations and timetables be the straw that broke this camel’s back. And most importantly, best to think about the potential and unintended consequences. When that’s done, I can move forward with confidence.
The same principle works in the spiritual realm. But with God, this plan takes surrender and letting go from the outset. Trusting and knowing that the plan is best executed and undertaken under the headship of the living God allows me to surrender to Him, rather than surrender to the enemy. Then, and only then, can no plan be thwarted by man.
If I follow my plan, it could indeed be a bridge too far. But if I follow the Lord’s plan, all will work together for good, for the Lord knows and sees the bigger picture; best to trust and obey and see how He works out the details.
Marty Norman is a wife, mother, and grandmother of five, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of Generation G – Advice for Savvy Grandmothers Who Will Never Go Gray. You can learn more about her at: www.martynorman.com, http://martynorman.blogspot.com, http://savvygrandmothers.blogspot.com.