Taking the Long View

In North Park, along with our partners at Hardin-Simmons University, we are proud to be the “cradle” that brought CCC to Abilene. Much work was done in planning how the great ideas we’d seen in Shreveport could come to life in a very different city, almost 400 miles to the west. But plan they did, work they did, and we would not be where we are today without that diligence. I’m humbled beyond description to be following in those footsteps. Even with all the groundwork gone before me, in many ways moving to the neighborhood 3 years ago felt like starting from square one. New people, new personalities, new neighbors... About a year into my work here, when I was feeling discouraged about the enormity of it all, I was introduced to the prayer I’ve included below. (Incidentally, I first heard it at a meeting with 3000-4000 other people in the same vein of ministry as I am who often also feel the enormity of it all. I think this says something about what God is trying to tell us about our work.) It was written by Bishop Ken Untener in memory of a Catholic archbishop, Oscar Romero, who was martyred for his work on behalf of the poor. I think he has some wisdom for us, and I hope it encourages you on your journey as it has encouraged me on mine.

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could 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 include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this. This enables us to do something, and to do it 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 not our own.