Monday, January 15, 2007

death road

A few nights ago Bonnie and I were watching a program on the Discovery Channel concerning “The World’s Most Dangerous Road.” This road known around the world as “The Death Road” is located in Bolivia, South America, winding through the Andean Mountains connecting the cities of La Paz and Coroico. Leaving La Paz, the world’s highest capital city at just under 4,000m above sea level, the road climbs up another 1000m into the mountains. It then plunges down through rainforest to the green plains and farm land some 3,200m below. The road was built by Paraguayan prisoners of war back in the 1930s. Many of them perished in the effort. Now it is mainly Bolivians who die on the road in their thousands. Every year it is estimated 200 to 300 people die on a stretch of road less than 50 miles long. In one year alone, 25 vehicles plunged off the road and into the ravine. That is one every two weeks. The roadside is littered with plain wooden crosses in remembrance of the people who perish each year. Cars, buses and bikes have all plummeted off the road whether through bad weather, bad driving or natural hazards such as waterfalls that propels vehicles down the side of the mountain. The Bolivian government has been working on a safer highway that would save many lives, but after millions of dollars and 20 years the end is still not in sight. “The Death Road” has become a world renowned attraction for the country of Bolivia. Some companies set up biking adventure tours for thrill seekers to come and ride “The Death Road.”

This road in Bolivia reminds me of another road that is known throughout the world as the “Via Dolorosa” which is Latin for “Way of Grief.” The “Via Dolorosa” is a street in old Jerusalem traditionally held to be the path that Jesus walked on his way to his crucifixion. People from all over the world make their way to this street to see the place that our Savior walked, to possibly put their feet on the same stones that Jesus touched a couple thousand years ago on his way to “Golgotha.” The bible tells us that “Golgotha” means place of the skull and history tells us that this hill outside of Jerusalem is where many were crucified including Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came to this place willingly, but he was not seeking a thrill. Jesus walked the “Way of Grief” because of love, because of mercy, because of me. After a night of false accusations and drummed up charges, Jesus, beaten, mocked and forced to carry his own cross made his way down the “Via Dolorosa.” While we could compare this road to “The Death Road” in Bolivia, I would rather think of it as “The Life Road.” It is true that at the end of this road was death for Jesus, but there was life for me. Like “The Death Road” there is a wooden cross on this road, but this cross is the cross of Calvary. Jesus death, this sacrifice opened another road for me and you. This road leads to life everlasting.

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