In the summer of 2014 Mer and I sat at Brendan’s preschool graduation giddy with anticipation to watch him walk across the stage in his cap and gown to proudly receive his construction paper diploma. When the graduates’ names were called it was followed by the proclamation of where they would be attending kindergarten. I clapped politely for each name but when I heard Brendan’s name followed by “Urban Christian Academy” I got goosebumps. For us that was the first time Urban Christian Academy was used as a real thing and not just an idea in our heads of what might be. And in that moment I clearly saw a grown up Brendan wearing a grown up cap and gown receiving a non-construction paper diploma from UCA. That image is seared in my mind. On hard days I pull out that mental snapshot and I am fueled to press on.
We’ve completed 15% of that picture…2 years down, 11 more to go. And then after that there’s college and then there is a career, and honestly, sometimes it feels like transforming a community will take forever.
We found a bullet on the playground the other day. It was pretty big, free from it’s casing and seeping with danger. The kids freaked out and I just felt a deep sadness. I was quickly reminded that the timetable for transformation is much slower than the timetable for destruction. It takes 13 plus years to equip young scholars and 1 second to pull a trigger that could take it all away. I’ve had a (stray) bullet go through a bedroom window of my house; at the school there are bullet holes in the front of our building. There is a reason why this zip code has been labeled the Murder Factory of Kansas City. We are here working slowly and steadily while sin works all around us at a lightning pace.
On the bus Michael and I were talking about Easter and how Eve ate the fruit and in 1 quick bite the whole world felt sad and it took so many years for Jesus to come to make things right. We wondered together about how sin can happen so fast but cleaning up its mess takes so long. Michael asked if I knew why and I said I didn’t really know but that I trusted God’s timing and he looked at me with sad and sincere eyes and said, “Well, maybe Jesus was really on the cross that whole time.” I think he’s on to something deep and meaningful. The cross wasn’t just a moment but a journey.
I think we all want reconciliation to be a moment. We want to write one check and solve the problem. We want to say sorry and then magically make everything okay again. We want to snap our fingers and have a genie come clean up the mess that sin has created. And then I’m reminded again that the story of the cross isn’t just a moment, it’s a journey.
Sometimes we want to expedite the journey, skip the laborious stuff and jump to the celebration part. I'm guilty of reading the last chapter of a book when I'm in the thick of the plot just because the labor of reading all the gritty details is too time consuming. I just want to get to the happy ending part. That's not how God is telling His stories. Before we got to an empty tomb there was desert after desert, the intense details of a law, and generations of stories of broken people trying to figure out how to keep the faith and hope for a Savior.
I pray we learn to find God's fingerprints in the deserts and in the details and in the brokenness of our stories.
Journey on, knowing we serve a God who wastes nothing and is weaving together one heck of a story.