October 2012

It was an upgrade that needed to happen. In fact it needed to happen the day it was first occupied. This is not a criticism of the time, money and effort invested into the original project, more of recognition of a greater need. However, despite clear inadequacies and shortcomings the upgrade faced delay after delay. But then it happened. We decided. During the summer our garden pond was going to experience a long overdue extension!

I caught the genetically morphed super goldfish (they live in an algae enriched green soup and we never feed them - yet they live!), relocated them into temporary housing (an algae free water filled crate – the shock hasn’t killed them and felt convinced that we really should start feeding them!), I emptied and removed the pre-form moulded pond thingy that was the heart of our first construction, and I dug. The exact design would undoubtedly develop, but to begin with ‘bigger’ was the only vision. The hole grew and then the rain came. The next day the rain came more. Then some more. (Well it was the summer - what did I expect?) A few weeks later, a less rainy day dawned and the digging resumed, until the rain came again!

Then Cathy suggested that the time was quickly arriving when design rather than digging should take precedence. Good thought I thought, so knowing my limitations (not being able to see well does hinder things) so we drafted in a fellow pond creating enthusiast and he, Cathy and I congregated around the muddy hole, sipping tea and pondering possible plans. Then it rained. A week or so later we were suddenly surprised by a sunny Saturday - precision creation commenced: the hole was shaped, levelled, re-shaped, re-levelled and re-shaped again. We were definitely making progress, it was clearly looking like a planned pond – just some final tweaks, measure and order the pond liner, fit it, fill it, enjoy it. And it rained again.

Meanwhile, some disturbing news hit Facebook. Another vicar in the area had decided to get his pond extended too – pond wars began! Day by day he posted pictures and videos of his pond progression; the digging, shaping, lining, filling, planting and water falling – and after just a week it was done, complete, finished, full of happy fish.

At my house, after a considerably longer duration our pond sat half full of muddy sludgey rainwater (with generous contributions added daily), lacking a liner and due to demands of jobs, family and church, no completion date in the diary.

Should we have started this DIY project in the first place stalked my mind. Even the truth that the victorious vicar’s achievement was only won because he had paid a chunk of money to two experienced pond diggers, who had the tools, time and expertise to complete this task did not totally shake my stalker.

Why am I telling you this tale? Because it is so easy to start something with enthusiasm and passion but then to lose heart because things get difficult or take longer than we had thought or hoped. Not just with extending ponds (or church buildings), but with following Jesus: choosing to be a worshipper, sharing our faith, studying and living God’s values and seeking to bring our best to the place you are serving. Factors like a lack of time, ability, money, support, co-operation, even a lack of good weather can easily gang up and push us to step back and settle into inaction.

This is not a new thing. There is a repeated biblical call and prayer for us to be people who persevere – who keep going. In 2 Thessalonians 3:5 we read “May the Lord direct your heart into God's love and Christ's perseverance.” I know this verse did not have pond extending in mind when it was written and I am not stretching it to do so here, rather it reveals where the reason for perseverance is to be found – in God’s love and Jesus’ perseverance for us. We follow, worship, share, study, serve, keep God first, because God loves us and Jesus did not stop when it came to saving us.

Our pond will get done and it will take longer than I expected. You can make a difference for Jesus in your life and that too may take longer than you expected. The key to both though is actually the same. Perseverance

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.”.
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