“God can take the broken bridges and make something beautiful. I am living proof.” – Brenda McEwen
This is a story. It is my brief account of a 3-year journey of a small group of like-minded individuals, strangers really at first, who came together for an extraordinary purpose. It is how I see it – these three years, this work, these colleagues who became friends.
The story begins many years earlier, when a seed was planted providentially in the heart of a man who became the president of a large non-profit organization. It was a seed of possibility – of what if we thought bigger, beyond our own company. What if we took the essence of what we did well and expand it to include all those who had our same vision? Across agencies, most much smaller than ours – to do a work with long-term global impact. For great good.
The particulars are not needed in this story…just the heart of it. The people in it.
As happens with God-shaped direction, this new president arrived, with this dream, to an organization where that vision was already stirring. He fueled the fire by appointing a leader to gather a team to move this dream to reality.
I had the privilege of writing some of the story of this team’s work. It was a small team, gathered from around the world for this purpose. For them, this was a dream job, for they also had that vision, that “what if” in their own hearts. For me, watching them work, this was a dream team, with differing gifts, strong character and great resolve. Praying, talking, researching, floating ideas, designing, creating, developing, networking, building relationships, talking some more, praying some more.
I won’t use pictures for this story, but there is a picture – a group of guys around a work table constructing and deconstructing and reconstructing a framework of “what if”. Whiteboard walls filled with ideas and timelines and names of partner organizations and notes from conversations. So much thinking and talking and praying.
This is the team I wrote about…these around this table and all the many we discovered around the world with the same vision – who were also moving in the same direction of this larger idea. Such a God thing. Even in this moment, I feel so privileged to have been a tiny part of such an endeavor.
In this last of the three years, the “what if” was in full launch with stories mounting of God at work.
In this same year, God was at work in other ways as well, affecting this team differently than they would have imagined. There was a change in leadership. A financial shortfall deepened. An overall strategy took a slight but dramatic turn.
This team’s work would not be the course taken to get to the “what if”…at least not for now.
If you have been in this place before – then you understand. We have probably all been through company reorganizations, maybe a personnel downsizing, possibly even a project termination or failure to launch. It happens.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the deep emotional toll of this story’s end. The conflicted anger mixed with deep, unrelenting sadness. The “what if” that went away… at least from this team, for now. At least…it seemed so.
Then I came to this amazing moment in the story…when it came to me that this isn’t the end.
One afternoon last week, after a fitful night of interrupted sleep, I took a nap. Upon waking, a Bible verse came to mind. It was the account of Israel’s King David who had prayed intently for his very ill little son not to die. God did not answer that prayer in the way David hoped.
“Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.” 2 Samuel 12:20
It was as if the Lord woke me from that sadness over this team and this work. I was also reminded of the story of Job receiving terrible news from a messenger:
“Behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:19-21
There comes a time…you stop grieving, and get up, and on with the life before you. That same afternoon, in the car doing errands, I heard a song lyric for the first time, after many times listening:
There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood, comes flowing down.
There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I’ve ever found.
Comes like a flood, comes flowing down.
Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down. – Chris Tomlin, At the Cross (Love Ran Red)
That afternoon, peace, over this team and their efforts, reigned in my heart. I was reminded of another One who had only a 3-year public ministry. He changed the world and continues to do so. We have that hope. We have that confidence. Our “what if” can be transformed to “what will be”.
Don’t hear me over-spiritualizing what “feels” really bad right now. The situation isn’t changed, but my perception of it has somewhat, with God’s tender help. Sadness, loss, and confusion will cloud my thinking from time to time. However, it won’t be where I live. Where I live, where this team lives, is about finishing strong – to be good stewards of what remains, to be faithful to God and the vision He planted in their hearts.
I want to celebrate them, and my season with them. How much our lives are changed by the giants of the past. Those who went before us, who picked up rocks, and cleared the way. Pioneers. This team stood on the shoulders of giants.
Photo Credit: Pinterest.com
These guys are giants to me.
When the day arrives that the sign comes down off the office door and the members of this team take different assignments or pursue different work, I will be forever thankful for these three years I got to watch them work. My life has been radically changed by being a small part of this team’s faithful tackling the “what if’s”. Life today continues to be radically changed by this Giant of a God we serve, who lifts us up on His shoulders.
The End…but not yet.
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip.” – King David – Psalm 121:2-3