Starting What Can’t Be Finished
The guide’s voice, well-rehearsed and modulated, faded into the background. The size and beauty of the cathedral filled my thoughts as I contemplated climbing the nearby bell tower to capture it with my camera. Santa Maria Del Fiore—Saint Mary of the Flowers—is part of a world heritage site, and is the largest dome ever constructed in the Renaissance. After many guides in many cities, I had developed a habit of listening for a while, disengaging for a time, and then returning to the guide’s monologue. I focused again on the guide’s voice just in time to hear, “They built the building without knowing how they would finish it.”
They did what?
The guide explained that they built the Cathedral knowing that they couldn’t finish it. They didn’t know how to build a dome 150 feet in diameter and 180 feet in the air. But they started building anyway, believing that someday someone would be able to finish it. Finally, after almost 100 years of gathering inside walls under an open sky the construction of the dome began which took another 100 years to complete. In other words, once the walls were up, it took almost two centuries for the cathedral to be completed!
As I contemplated this incredible story, I alternated between wanting to admire their faithful commitment and wanting to lecture them on the words of Jesus. After all, Jesus said that no one should begin a project that they couldn’t complete. (Luke 14:28) Yet the people of Florence felt that God called them to build the cathedral, and that, therefore, He would also send someone to help them finish it, so they started what they couldn’t finish. Later that day, as I looked at the beautiful dome from the bell tower I prayed, “How could this be Lord? You warned against starting what couldn’t be finished!” Then the Spirit whispered, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)
In our highly pragmatic, strategic, and efficient world it is good to remember that sometimes faithful obedience to our Lord means that we will start something when we have no clue how to finish. He doesn’t ask us to understand, but He does ask us to trust that even when we can’t, He always finishes what He starts. (Phil. 1:6)
-Larry Schram ,BCY Regional Minister
Here are just a few examples of how this truth gets worked out in ministry:
Called to Start what will never be finished—New ministry beginnings: Matthew Fox starts July 1st at Comox Community Baptist Church, Stefano Piva starts in August as Lead Pastor at West Point Grey Baptist Church.
Called to finish when the work isn’t done—Retirement: Norm Sowden retires July 31st and Jack Leighton retires October 31st.
Called To Do What Can’t Be Fully Paid For (Summer camp)—Keats Camp:
“When we lookback on our lives, there are key moments that have set the direction of our future. For many, camp is the place where that happens. For Keats this year, the practical reality is that we will run a significant deficit (even with offering 8 weeks of camp), but have been called for over 90 years to provide quality camping to children and youth and are stepping out in faith. We know that this year’s loss is miniscule in comparison to what God can and will accomplish this summer through our staff, volunteers, campers and guests. It is the generations of testimonies, support and conversations that carry us along in faith to get through these challenges.”
Stan Carmody // Executive Director
Called to build when the future is uncertain—Beulah:
Beulah provides an affordable place to live for maturing, financially challenged adults, in Jesus’ name. More than housing, we provide a community of love, support, and grace. Presently, the waiting list to get into an apartment is 3 years. So, based on the growing need, with a conservative financial approach even though the future is uncertain, our board has approved a plan of adding two 64-unit buildings in the next 5 years. We believe that what we do is an extension of Christ’s call for His people in Vancouver. We are missionaries, not landlords.
– Jamey S. McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Beulah Garden Homes Society
This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: email@example.com