By James Deaton
“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15a).
Part of my job description as a managing editor is to create publishing schedules, making sure they’re realistic given the project’s scope. I’m also responsible for monitoring progress and checking in with writers and graphic designers to ensure we meet our deadlines. It works well, most of the time, but sometimes the schedule gets delayed for a variety of reasons.
Significant parts of a cookbook are accidentally skipped over during the editing phase. Receiving permission from copyright owners to reprint previously published material takes longer than anticipated. Illustrations for a children’s book are substandard and more work must be done. A writer becomes ill and dies, leaving a project unfinished. Through these experiences, to my chagrin, I’ve learned how to step back and recalibrate a schedule.
Too often my work mindset bleeds over into my spiritual life. I place markers into the future and set expectations for where I hope to be in my life of discipleship—in prayer, in church attendance, in tithing, in reading scripture, in ministry involvement. Goals are good, and the call to lead a holy life is a serious one, but sometimes I box myself in so tightly that the work of the Holy Spirit is easily snuffed out.
During this time of transition in our life together as a parish family, it’s easy to appreciate the orderliness of the processes and procedures that manage our life together. We follow Robert’s Rules of Order in our meetings. We create checklists when planning for events. We depend upon a set worship schedule. We need these things to keep us on task—they give us stability and structure. But how can we also value the way God moves in mysterious ways, leading us down a new path to the beat of a different drum?
Something is stirring at Grace. The Spirt of God is alive and well. Recently I felt this in a profound way—in our singing together, in honest words spoken and received, in God’s Word proclaimed with conviction and truth, in grace given through bread and wine at the altar rail, in the embrace of a dear friend, in a kind smile from a visitor, in hearty laughter around a table at coffee hour.
I have no doubt that God is here with us, even when things don’t happen according to our timetable. While we move forward in the days ahead, remember to care for and love one another as our God has loved us. Give each other the space needed for the grace of God to work. And listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, who may ask us to change our schedules to focus on more important work.