“Boilers, Buildings, and Budgets”
Every seminary needs to have a course with this title, although I’m not sure if any do. I certainly didn’t find any sort of educational offering like this at my seminary.
Fortunately, my legal experience has served me well when it comes to church administration, and I’m grateful for staff and Vestry members who help me a great deal in this arena. You can rest assured that our parish is in good (collective) hands when it comes to our boilers, buildings, and budgets!
Still, though, every now and again one of these things will keep me up at night. Recently, I lamented to my husband that figuring out how to handle a certain building issue was less straightforward than I’d hoped. I was frustrated at the complexity and confusion and lack of a clear approach.
“Of course,” I quickly noted, “when was Jesus ever straightforward?” Very rarely, to be sure. My husband said that being with Jesus would have been so annoying for that reason. “Give me a break, Jesus! I have to say ‘goodbye’ to my dad!” he quipped. (See Luke 9:61-62). I got a kick out of that one.
Life is always throwing us curveballs, from the monumental (a lost job) to the minute (a flat tire). Sometimes the way forward is obvious and sometimes it’s not. But God’s promises always hold true. One I know quite well from my childhood Bible memorization days is this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I used to read this as an if-then statement. IF I trust in God and not in my own limited logic or desire for control, THEN God will set the path before me. This is a fair interpretation, but it’s also an incomplete truth. It can lead us to conclude that we shouldn’t walk a path until God makes it straight.
Yet trusting, depending on, and acknowledging God only happens in the process of walking by faith. Therefore, the path is made straight as we walk, just as God promised all along.
Jesus has gone before us, is with us now, and will be there through it all. We may never fully grasp his teachings; not even his disciples who learned at his feet could do that. And he may only reveal his plans for us a little at a time. Perhaps this is exactly as it should be, for it keeps us leaning on him every step of the way.