“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.”
Oscar Romero (1917 – 1980); used in today’s Common Prayer, www.commonprayer.net.
The human mind always wants to jump to the end — I want to know about outcomes. I want to know that the people I see at the shelter on a Sunday are going to be OK. I want to know saying yes to a project will bring joy to all involved. I want to know my kids will grow up to love God and those around them, especially those who are different from them.
Heck, I want to know our math curriculum for next year won’t trip us up before Thanksgiving.
I want to know a lot of things, and I ask God, and sometimes I get radio silence.
And I have to breathe in that not-knowing, and be all right. As a runner, I would never start a race not knowing the distance of the course or how many water stations I’d see along the way. But that’s the thing about parenthood and serving and just being a follower of Christ; I don’t get to know those details, or even why choices I make beyond my own reasoning matter. And that’s why I pray. And that’s why when a neighbor says “it’s a scary time to raise a kid. I wouldn’t want to do it now,” I don’t despair.I’m planting seeds here. And no one plants seeds who doesn’t have at least a little bit of hope.