Worth Waiting For

Whether it is for a check-out lane at Wal-Mart or a slow Internet connection, “wait” is a four-letter word. Good things might come to those who wait, but we have invested well in assuring ourselves we won’t have to test that adage. We don’t wait for food to cook, for film to develop, and certainly not for a word to arrive from a friend or loved one. From instant pudding to instant messaging, we want it now. And consequently, when we must wait, we are not good at it.

We are not in bad company as impatient people. Abraham in his haste to receive God’s promise hurried to a handmaiden. Aaron, in the prolonged absence of the mountaintop-Moses, took matters into his own crafty hands. David whined for God to rush his wrath towards his pursuers. But in God’s time, His people celebrated His faithfulness.

What is the longest range committee planning meeting you have sat on? How far out can we realistically set even long-range goals without losing interest? I recently read an article by Lesley-Anne Knight in Reflections, the Yale Divinity School’s publication addressing poverty.

In preparation for a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, she did a little research and discovered it took 120 years to build. None of its starters were among its finishers. Ms. Knight considers it one of the world’s “Grand Projects: those endeavors that transcend the ambitions of individuals, producing something of lasting value for posterity.” She wonders (and I do too,) whether in our no-wait world we would even embark on such a venture.

What is worth starting knowing you won’t be around to finish? Ms. Knight is writing about the Grand Project of abolishing global poverty. Perhaps it is hopelessly idealistic, she admits, but what an achievement it would be. It requires us to have the courage and conviction to begin something that we may not have the satisfaction of seeing completed. She goes on to say that it requires a selfless spirit, farsighted vision and above all faith. I am certain this thing we call neighborhood renewal or transformation that we have embarked on is a Grand Project, and like the Basilica’s builders, we will not finish. Not because we are inadequate or slow, but because it is indeed something that transcends the ambitions of individuals and produces something of lasting value. But we can begin, and leave an outline that can be filled in by the others that come along with their hopes and dreams and visions of a place where we love and respect more fully the gifts and ideas of our neighbors and together usher in the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.