This past Sunday ended our 3 week Capital Campaign and also a journey that began, for me, last October-ish.
There were some parts of the campus that needed (needs) serious attention. And so the ball got rolling on this capital campaign.
I didn’t know where to begin or what to do, as this is my first appointment as the pastor and not an associate. Also, finances and administration is not a strong suit in the gifts and talents that God has given me. Oh. And I never had to be in the forefront of such a project.
I definitely felt overwhelmed and overmatched with the road that was ahead of us.
And I was worried. About everything and anything.
The money that we had to raise wasn’t a small amount.
What happens if we don’t reach our goal?
What would that say about us? What would that say about me, as their pastor?
Where would we go? How would we bounce back?
Or, worse, what happens if we succeed, and in a perverse way, I somehow take credit for it?
Knowing me, that’s all too much of a possibility. What if I let this go to my head, and my ego becomes even bigger and less tolerable? What if I start thinking too much of myself?
I found myself going to the beach a lot these past few months.
I remember my dad telling me, long ago, that the sound of the waves is the sound of God breathing. (He also once told me, after I had done something, bad that the rain was God’s tears and, since it was raining, I had made God cry.)
Sitting there and listening to the waves and taking in the scenery, I was reminded of what my freshman football coach told the team, after a tough loss to our rival school: “Don’t let failure go to your heart, and don’t let success go to your head.”
(Funnily enough, there are many, many people who stop by the beach and just … ponder, I guess. Most of them never get out of their cars. Instead, they just sit there and stare off into the horizon. One of these days, I hope to find the courage to see what is on their hearts.)
Sitting on rocks (I dislike sand. Like, a lot) listening to the waves, watching the birds fly and fight, watching the people pass by, trying to keep dogs from sniffing on me, I realized that my focus and attention were all on the wrong thing. I was focusing on the numbers and the amount that we had to raise. I guess, it was more than focusing, but obsessing over the numbers.
I could feel God pushing me to look above and beyond that — to focus on God, not the numbers. To focus on the journey, not the end results.
This was something that God placed on our hearts (not just mine) to do.
And because this was something God pushed us to do, God was going to be with us every single step of this journey.
Things will work out one way or the other, because God is with us and for us. And I began to understand and accept that God’s desired result may not look like what I expected and desired.
In the midsts of my prayers and being immersed in God’s grace, I found my burdens turning into wonder.
Abraham Herschel once said, “I didn’t ask for success, I asked for wonder.”
I’m beginning to understand how great of a prayer that really is.
I’m left in wonder and awe of God and God’s people.
The end of this journey marks the beginning of a new and exciting one.
I am excited for the journey God has us on. And am looking forward to sharing this journey with the faith community of St. Mark.
I know that God is with us, for us, and pulling us ahead to a great future, for God is nowhere near done with us.
As we begin on the next chapter of St. Mark and year 2 of my appointment here, I pray, not for success, but for wonder.