I found this poem over on Skye Jethani’s blog recently and thought it was way too powerful not to share.
(This prayer is attributed to Oscar Romero, archbishop of El Salvador. He was assassinated in 1980 while saying the mass in San Salvador.)
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a 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 includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces 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 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.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I just need to stop, take a step back, and remind myself that it’s so much bigger than me. It’s so much bigger than anything I have done or will do…haven’t done or won’t do. I am just a very small piece of His puzzle. Nothing like a healthy dose of perspective :)
A few months ago I shared my “Interreview” of Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds by Sarah Cunningham. Among other things in the book, Sarah recounts her experiences going to serve in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I’ll admit that this section of the book wasn’t what struck me when I read it. But I was in Chicago recently with Sarah and she had been caught up in a flurry of radio interviews, article requests, and phone calls asking for her thoughts about the recent plans to build a mosque in New York City.
What an opportunity to respond well to controversy very much in the public eye, to a situation where people are likely just waiting to point the finger at Christians for being unloving. What an opportunity to do just the opposite and love…love as Jesus would love…love our enemies…yes, even go so far as to pray for them.
Loving and serving selflessly doesn’t usually come easy for many of us. But, it’s amazing how naturally those things flow when we find ourselves in the middle of crisis and turmoil. My prayer is that we learn to love well and respond accordingly…even to controversial issues…even to our enemies, whether that be the current situation in New York or our neighbor whose dog keeps us up at night and whose kids throw garbage on our lawn. And let’s not wait for a disaster to do so.
*Haven’t read Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds yet? Starting September 13th you can download the electronic version for FREE on Amazon. If you are like me and prefer the real paper and ink kind of book, you can buy it here