Written by Gary Taylor

It's taken a lot longer than we expected, as most every construction project seems to do.  The playground that we thought would be ready for this Sunday (May 7) remains under construction.

The weather has been good for completing outdoor projects, right?  So what's the hold up?  

As it turns out, with every hole that was dug for the support poles and foundation of the playset, the workers have encountered gas, water, or irrigation lines.  The lack of visible progress is due to things hidden beneath the surface.

Let me restate that previous sentence, because it's an important lesson for all of us: A lack of visible progress is due to things hidden beneath the surface.

When we are slow to make progress in our marriages or in the deepening of friendships, it's often because we need to first deal with the things beneath the surface of our lives.  Fears and feelings of inadequacy.  Anxieties and apprehension.  Pride.  Doubt and shame.  Bitterness.  Unresolved conflict.  Unhealthy expectations.  The list of things we've buried over the years is quite long, isn't it?

The life we desire above the surface - the playground of deep joy - takes time to develop.  Just as we thought playground construction would be further along by now, I figured I'd be a lot further along in my growth and maturity as a husband and father and friend. I've made big promises over the years - sorta like posting signs stating, "I'll be ready by May 7," only to discover that there are those darn things beneath the surface that God simply will not let me overlook.

The playground is nearer to completion now than it was a month ago.  And it's further along this afternoon than it was yesterday.  Progress is being made, even though it's not always immediately noticeable.

If you have a preschooler who has been salivating over this playset-to-come, they might be a bit disappointed when they show up this Sunday.  I hate that, but it's just the way things are.  I don't want to make another promise, but maybe Mother's Day will be the ribbon-cutting ceremony???

Our current sermon series is titled, "Change your Story, Change your Life."  Change happens, but not overnight.  If you come to church this Sunday hoping to hang out with perfectly complete Christian people and pastors - don't be too frustrated by what you find.  Just remember that many of us are encountering change; whether it's visible yet is up for debate.  

This is my "incomplete-playground" prayer.  Maybe you'd consider praying it, too:

Dear Heavenly Father, address the stuff beneath the surface.  Thanks for sending Jesus to walk the surface of this earth.  And thank you, Jesus, for willingly spending three days beneath the surface, so I can make progress.  Holy Spirit, I invite you to keep digging.  I'm embarrassed to think of all you will unearth, but it will be worth it when - someday, at the Big Ribbon Cutting - I can finally climb and slide and swing and play, perfectly complete in Your Presence.