The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton Reflects on Day 33

Exodus 34–36, Psalm 28, Mark 1

“Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work” (Exodus 36:6-7).

Can you imagine—a capital campaign so wildly successful that people must be ordered to stop contributing? Neither can I.

Human beings form societies in order to accomplish things that are too big for one person to do alone. We reach out for help when we can’t do it by ourselves. We make teams, sell shares, set up committees, hire assistants. Many hands make light work, we say.

Unless they don’t.

One of the great truths of life together is that it always causes friction. We can’t read each other’s minds. We each have our own vision. A great leader communicates her vision in a way that others can see and embrace it, but there is usually a slip or two along the way—nothing fatal, usually, but different enough from what we expect to require a little more flexibility than we thought we’d need when we began. If you are undone by the unexpected, life will make you a nervous wreck in no time. If we want to accomplish anything in life, we’d better surrender at least some of our rigidity.

We must also be ready to move through our projects. The people who brought in all those things for enhancing Israel’s worship of God were so excited about the first stage of the effort that they wanted to stay there. They would have brought in fancy fabrics forever. But now it was time to stop collecting goods and begin deploying them—a different activity altogether.

We can’t prepare forever. Eventually it’s time to take the plunge and use what we have.

QUESTIONS

Have you ever gotten stuck in the preparation phase of something you cared about? How were you helped to move on?

PRAYER

God of all our blessings, I want to help. Help me do so cooperatively, with an open mind and a listening heart. Help me not to take it personally when someone tempers my enthusiasm. Help me to entrust the outcome of all human effort to you. Amen.

-The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
Author and Retreat Leader
Newark, New Jersey