Sometimes getting from here to there seems impossible! You are trying to help a church that has just experienced a messy pastoral exit move through it but the mess seems impossible to clean up. You've witnessed or been in the middle of a broken relationship with deep scars that don't seem to be healing. The group of churches under your care seem to be having more trouble than you have the resources to handle and you are out of answers. You feel stuck in your own personal growth and have seemed to have lost the fire you once had.
Whatever the circumstances of your life and leadership may be, getting from where you are (here) to where God wants you to be (there) can be challenging. Navigating that transition is critical. Tapping into the necessary resources to take that journey is essential! Traveling that journey alone is unnecessary! Let me tell you a story.
In New Mexico sits a chapel of wonder. The Loretto Chapel. It took five years to complete and within its walls one finds a simple altar, a rose window, and a choir loft.
The choir loft is the reason for wonder. Were you to stand in the newly build chapel in 1878, you might see the Sisters of Loretto looking sadly at the balcony. Everything was complete: doors hung, pews in place, and the floor laid. Everything was finished including the choir loft - except for one thing. No stairs!
Normal stairs wouldn't fit. The best consultants and designers were baffled. "Impossible," they said. "A ladder would have to do!" But what a compromise!
The sisters of Loretto, determined as they were, took on this challenge - a stairway that couldn't be built.
Their dream and the reality they faced was separated by a mere 15 impossible feet. So what did they do? The only thing they could do. They climbed the mountain. Not a physical mountain, but the mountain of prayer that has an open path to anyone.
What About You?
Now think about what you face in 2011. You may be a transitional pastor, a denominational leader, an intentional interim, or a leader in some other capacity in the church or marketplace. What gap stares you in the face that needs stairs built to close? What seems impossible to you? Maybe its a family issue, a personal issue, a health issue, or a congregational issue.
Closing the gap will take more than human effort and coaching. There is a need for a God breathed solution to the problem you face. God will bring the right people with the right resources to help the impossible happen!
Now the rest of the story
As the story continues, the nuns prayed for nine days. On the last day, a Mexican carpenter with a beard and a wind-burned face appeared at the chapel. He explained that he had heard they needed some stairs built so he came to help.
He went to work with crude tools, great patience and uncanny skill. For eight months he worked until finally one morning the Sisters of Loretto entered the chapel to find their prayers answered. There stood the staircase - a masterpiece. Two complete 360 degree turns, 33 steps help together with wooden pegs and no central support. It had been built with wood nonexistent in New Mexico!
When the sisters turned to thanked the craftsman, he was gone and was never seen again.
We who work with congregations at times encounter situations where there are significant gaps that need fresh thinking in order to find solutions. In those situations, we work with the congregation and their leaders to design and build stairways from here to there. We are equipped as outsiders to come in with our foreign wood and our tools to help navigate a difficult transition.
This work we do is God`s work. Seeing change and renewal in people`s lives is humanly impossible but with God`s help and custom designs, anything is possible!
Whether you are the one who needs a solution to an impossible problem or the one who is part of someone else`s solution to their impossible problem, may we partner with God, learn to pray whole heartedly and work with God to see impossible gaps filled with God size solutions!
1. Write down what your (or one you are working with) impossible situation is.
2. Now in prayer, give your situation over to God and ask Him to be with you and those involved in this situation.
3. In prayer, listen for God's direction or instruction regarding that situation and write down anything that comes to you.
4. Invite other trusted friends to pray with you about this situation and for God's solution.
5. Now, if you are being asked to help build the stairs, rise to the challenge with God's help and power and do the work!
Putting this into Practice