The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 13: What Are We Building?
This week I’m popping outside of our faith rebuilding process to step back and take a wider view. So far, we’ve looked at a number of foundational topics – all about how to know ourselves and begin to know God, and there is an opportunity here to start to build up a little bit higher. To do this, we need perspective, measurement, and assessment, and there’s no better time to do that than right now. This week, we’re marking the one-year anniversary of the time when everything changed, due to the COVID pandemic. And there’s not a date we can look to, specifically, but there is a feeling we can name when we increasingly understood that something big was happening at this time last year.
Maybe it was when you or your dear ones had to quickly figure out how to go work or school online. Maybe it was the day your travel plans got cancelled. Maybe it was the day you tried to shop for hand sanitizer or toilet paper and found the shelves completely bare. How weird and scary was that, by the way! For me, it was a period of a few days in which my preschool teaching radically changed. One day I had a full schedule of fun and engaging music classes, the next we were talking about how to make it work with safety precautions, and the next day, it was done, all of it.
This vocational challenge was the beginning of a lot of soul searching for me about just who I am and what I’m doing here. Because, as we were becoming aware of the seriousness of COVID, the chapel where I serve as a music minister had already closed due to a fire, and so at the same time my teaching was done, I found the door closing on my longtime ministry and my church community, who I love. It felt scary and I felt adrift. Maybe you can relate to that.
Who are you without your labels anyway? It’s one of the biggest things I hope we’ll gain from this time of quarantine, change, and struggle. Because we’ve learned how flimsy labels are, haven’t we? Like, who are you without an office or a school affiliation or a schedule or a job title, or when your relationships have shifted or strained? When all of life’s puzzle pieces are up in the air, what becomes important and clear in those moments – those are the important building blocks to prioritize as the pieces fall into place once again.
There’s no going back to normal, or at least there shouldn’t be, in my opinion. What a waste that would be, truly, if we didn’t consider, reflect and learn from this crucible of time that we’ve all experienced together. And don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for the simple things I once took for granted. I want so badly to eat an appetizer in a restaurant or go to a musical and sit in an audience. I want to teach music with real live children. And oh, I want to hug my friends.
But I hope I do those “normal” things with a new lens now, a new gratitude, a new focus on my priorities, and with intention. As I rebuild both my faith life and my post-COVID life, I want the walls straighter now. I want the structure safer, and I want it all more useful and beautiful than it was before. Many of us have the opportunity of a full-scale life renovation like, right now so, friend, what do you want to keep, what do you want to let go, what did you learn?
This week, we started watching Ozark (I know – so late to the game) and there was a scene where a minister on a lake was preaching to congregants, who were all surrounding him in their boats. He read from the book of Zechariah, Chapter 4 and he said, “Do not despise small beginnings,” and something in my spirit said, hey – pay attention to this.
The context of that scripture has to do with the building of the temple. The king at that time, Zerubbabel – gosh I hope I am pronouncing that right. Anyway, Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of the temple, and there was no expectation that he’d do much more than that in his lifetime. Back then, building took a long time, like decades, but an angel came and explained to the prophet Zechariah how this particular building project was going to go.
Not by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit.
The angel said that all of the obstacles to this building were like a mighty mountain that would miraculously become level ground, and when King Zerubabbel himself placed the capstone on the temple, the people would cry out blessings and praise because only God could make this happen, and in that moment, they would see that it was so.
And this is the part I love: The angel said, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”
For, after all, the people may not see how it would possibly come to pass until the day that capstone was laid (ah, we love results, don’t we?) but God sees building very differently. The angel said that “God Himself will rejoice when He sees the plumb line in the hand of Zerubabbel.”
You probably already know what a plumb line is, but I will admit, I did not. It’s amazing where Bible study will lead you sometimes, but in this particular case it led me to builder Bob Vila who, in a quick YouTube video, explained to me what a plumb line is and what it’s for. And I’ll link to that and more resources in today’s show notes, but essentially, a plumb line is used to make sure the vertical lines in a building are truly straight lines.
It’s a simple device, and it uses a high point and gravity to start a building project off right. Without straight walls, straight lines – you know, a crooked line is not going to support the weight of future building, so it’s important. And this is the opportunity that we have in these days – to look up, to measure, to plan, to get grounded, and then – to start building a faith life, or a post-COVID life, from small beginnings. God rejoiced when he saw the plumb line in Zerubabbel’s hand because it indicated that His temple would not be built haphazardly but would be built thoughtfully and with care. It would support the weight of future building. This was a small but crucial beginning and it meant that this was a project God could accelerate with His Spirit so that the people could not only gather in His name but also know Him in His kindness and power. God could see that whole big picture from the humblest and truest beginnings. He can see yours and mine, too.
Our job is in the small beginnings, in the measuring and the thoughtful start. With time, work, and the help of God, our building will be something that people will notice, something they’ll be drawn to, something they thank God for. And wouldn’t that be something?
So many times, this year has felt like endings, the end of a story or a job or a schedule or a way of being, but I’m convinced that God is making a way in this wilderness if we would just pay attention to where and how. This year was a chapter, and maybe one of the hardest chapters we’ve ever had, but it has also has the power of becoming our pivot, the chapter that changes everything, the one we’ll look back on with overwhelming gratitude because of the many gifts it gave us.
So please, friend, don’t go back to normal, as if there is any such thing.
Take the time to listen to the lessons and the light that this hard time has shown us – let’s really take it in and measure it – and then let’s move forward with purpose, and direction. Let’s build something new and not really worry about it if it’s small. We know God will rejoice to see the plumb line in our hand, and if we ask Him, He’ll put His Spirit into it in such a way that what we build will astonish even us. Oh friend, I can’t wait to see what it is.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. If you’d like to engage with me on this topic, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. If you liked this podcast, would you please consider sharing, subscribing, rating or reviewing? Thanks so much in advance for that.
Before we go today, let us pray.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Oh God, make us faithful in this time to the listening, the measuring, and the planning as we consider our next chapters, in small, small steps. You love our small beginnings, and we can’t wait to see what You are building in us. Thank you for it all in the name of Jesus, amen.
Okay friend, I’ll see you next time.