Here’s a quote for the New Year, an old favorite I came across the other day. It is often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, but according to the U.S. Conference of Bishops website, it was actually written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, Michigan. This is an excerpt:
“It helps now and then, to step back and take the 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 another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We lay foundations that will need further development. 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 . . . 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.”
Or as Paul would say it, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
The turning of a year is a time to wonder about what you have accomplished and what work is yet to be done. It’s wonderful to celebrate accomplishments, and it can be heartbreaking to consider all those things you’ve failed to do. But true humility comes in remembering that everything we do is a small, vital piece of God’s “magnificent enterprise“. How lucky that we get to plant things! Or water them! Or watch them grow! How lucky to be part of pruning or transplanting! Anywhere you are placed within the process of growing God’s Kingdom, celebrate the honor of having been called to do what you were able to do!
And then, ask yourself and God: what new thing will I grow or build this year?