One day I’m driving along and notice the promise of new things to come. There’s a SOLD sign on the treed parcel of land that’s been for sale for a long time. A thrill of expectation hits me and I instantly begin dreaming of what is about to happen. Something new. Something cool. Something I’m going to enjoy. But not Sue. She instantly laments the imminent loss of ‘her’ trees (FYI: all trees, all forests, are ‘hers.’) And, right on schedule, on the next trip past the lot, there are, tied to many of the trees, ribbons of red tape indicating the ones which will come down to make way for the miracle of construction (I say miracle. Here, too, Sue thinks differently.) Then, for months, there is the clearing and leveling of the land, the appearance of little differently colored flags indicating the future placement of utilities. And, after what seems an eternity, there is the arrival of equipment to begin the visible part of the project. The mystery is deep and curious excitement is mounting, as there is, as yet, no clue as to what is about to be built. Only contractor’s signs and signs for the source of funding, but nothing revealing the end goal, the big secret. It’s maddening how long this takes to get to the reveal (don’t they know how anxious I am?) But what is obvious, is that there has been very careful planning, meticulously drawn sets of plans, and scores of professionals involved whose names are on the line for the successful completion of the ‘new’ whatever the new is. It’s called ‘critical path,’ with each phase finely detailed, each subcontractor notified, monies made available at the right times, etc. In the end, I know they greatly care about my feelings (phew!) but rushing ahead simply to satisfy my nosy tendencies is not in their best interests.
And that’s why Jesus did it! Don’t you see the parallel? Jesus’ brief time of ministry was brilliantly executed (because Jesus is brilliant!). Every phase expertly carried out. He missed nothing. He omitted nothing. He knew that relationships, genuine, of-the-heart, relationships, took time. So, he did that. He took his time loving his motley band of country bumpkins, knowing, all the while, that they were diamonds in the rough, but diamonds nonetheless. I was shocked at first to discover that he never told the disciples to pray. They had to ask him to teach them how to pray (and there’s nowhere in the four Gospels that mentions them actually praying, not even on the night he was betrayed when he specifically asked them to watch with him! They kept falling asleep!). What I’m going to guess Jesus was thinking, was that, soon enough, circumstances would propel them into prayer, but that, for now, the time for being with them was so short, so invigorating, he felt no need for his guys to do anything more. Like friends of the bridegroom who celebrate, not fast, while the bridegroom is with them, maybe the disciples didn’t sense a need for prayer while Jesus, their Bridegroom, was with them. Prayer, I’m thinking, was meant to be a natural transition, a carrying on of their friendship with Jesus, once he was no longer physically present with them. Maybe that’s still part of the critical path we’re on, today. Just sayin.’ PD