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.”
For many of us today, these words of Father Ken Untener gather a frustration we feel and turn it inside out. It’s refreshing. We often need to be reminded that what we do not finish is not failure and that many times our tasks are beyond our own powers to complete. This is particularly true for the psychotherapist who seeks to help devout Christians grow beyond childhood trauma, patterns of neglect, or addictive behaviors. It’s true for parents of struggling children, too or teachers with challenging students.
We simply do not see the whole picture, so when we experience a setback, we would do well to take the step back recommended to us here. The pause may give our brains the needed time to release heightened levels of adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine, the three major stress hormones that can flood our brains when crises approach. When we allow ourselves to ruminate on a problem, our bodies continue to produce cortisol and that can cause significant health risks. So let’s all take the long view this week. Make space for a rested brain.