Friday, August 21, 2015

Fine lines…

I wrote to someone not long ago that I’ve recently learned, “There’s fine line between stubbornness and faith.” Maybe it’s even in the eye of the beholder! The context, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, was our building project. For the past several months, it’s felt like an on-again, off-again situation, which was very jarring. Indeed, your leadership has traveled an active rollercoaster of frustration, changes and hopes.

As of this week, the car feels like it’s nearing a peak and – finally! – is poised to head downhill with excitement and speed. What I mean to say with that clunky metaphor is that our church received and accepted a loan offer from Klein Bank to fund the work!

As you maybe know, Church Extension originally rejected our application due to us attempting to be our own General Contractor. Klein doesn’t like that either, but is willing to work with us. Plus, they’re offering better rates than CE, which could prove useful. The church should see budget savings from a reduced mortgage, and also be able to stash away enough money to cover a year’s full mortgage. Should something unexpected happen to the child care center, that fund buys us time to recruit new tenants.

The deal hasn’t closed yet, of course. The bank will do title work, an appraisal, and need assurance that our construction budget is sufficient to build the building. We’re working closely with new contractors to provide that assurance, and should know – either way – in the next week. But assuming things go well, we’ll break ground in time to beat winter. Please keep praying for that!

And, again, what I’ve been reflecting on as this up-and-down process played itself out is that, at several points, we could’ve walked away, simply said, “It’s just too hard. Isn’t doing good supposed to be easier than this?!” I’ll be honest, I’m still tempted by that idea. That will be especially true if new contractor bids aren’t what we’re expecting. An alternative thought, however, is that we do what’s hard because it’s good. I like that better, that without a stick-to-itiveness, a tenacity and confidence that what we’re trying to accomplish is worth accomplishing, then good won’t be done. We’ll remain as we are, watching the status quo devolve into a much less interesting story about the power of Jesus’ Good News. Paul said that faith, hope and love are the three great Christian virtues. And they’re interdependent. Without hope, faith means little, to say nothing of love!

Hence, my recent insight about stubbornness. Sometimes being stubborn is about pride or, basically, not losing. Perhaps that’s been going on here. But I believe your leadership was up to something different, something better. I’m convinced their stubbornness to keeping finding new solutions, to take responsible and timely risks, to put it on the line consistently for the sake of pursuing Christ’s call, I believe that was about hope. A hope that we’re walking God’s way, a hope that the kids we’re serving and the church growth we’re seeding will pay off, making us and the world better, a hope that would diminish, even dissipate, if we decided to give up.

Hope without foundation is naiveté. Hope based on the promise and ways of God is faith. And faith is good! Because, essentially, it’s the stubborn commitment to trust that a better future is possible than one predicted by our fear. We’re too often told to fear. By so much around us- the news, our families, dour neighbors, bank account statements. That loud, resounding and repeating voice of fear convinces too many it’s also the voice of wisdom. That’s rarely true. Rather, I trust faith, that however stubborn it sounds, it’s better (and holier) to invest in futures forecasted by hope.

Of course, our project may all go south in a couple weeks, again, because not every step forward in faith ends the way we…hope. Nevertheless, I’m glad your church leaders chose that path rather than one less…rich, interesting, and primed. So tell those stubborn souls, next time you see them, “Thanks! Bravo! Keep it up!” Then, whatever happens, we’ll be faithful together.

As church should always be.

Grace and Peace,

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