His name is St. Paul, a beautiful cathedral born in 1845 to the Church of England. The community celebrated its arrival with joy, and within a few short years, the original building could not contain the throngs of people finding respite and renewed hope. More space was added around the altar to make room for larger choirs, and bigger aisles were built for larger crowds. Exquisite stained glass was designed to tell the stories of triumph that were told within the walls of the sanctuary. A tower was erected, saints posting guard in all four corners, so that no one would miss the Church of St. Paul as they traveled through the town.
The cathedral is truly exquisite.
The story it tells now is not one of saints and sanctuary. It is a cautionary tale of the power and purpose of time.
I know. It’s an odd thing that only God fully understands. To him, one day can be like a thousand years, and a lifetime is like the fragile flame of a candle. He reminds us time and time again in scripture to be still, stop striving, quit fretting, allow patience to have its good work within us, pace ourselves like marathoners, and keep our eyes on what really matters. He says we are the clay and He is an exquisite master of design. Time can be invested, wasted, spent, saved, savored, squandered. What we do with the time we are given reflects much about the condition of our souls.
Teach us to use wisely
all the time we have. Psalm 90:12
You see, the Church of St. Paul was born already indebted to those who demanded to see a glorious structure. It took years to pay off the initial debt so the church could be officially consecrated.
Intoxicated by the cathedral’s popularity, leadership built larger and larger spaces. They pictured a tower that would serve as a beacon of hope for all to see, and quickly set to work to stack it high, cheered on by the crowds.
But the materials they used in their rush to become mighty were not designed to withstand the passage of time. The stone crafted for interior beauty was used for exterior walls.
To casual passersby then, the cathedral was majestic. And at first glance today, it is a beautiful relic. Now, the building sits vacant, its structure declared dangerous. It can be purchased for a little more than $100,000, but it would take more than $4 million to repair.
I could write volumes about the stories being told now by the Church of St. Paul. But for now, I just keep landing on this: in a culture where the throngs cheer bigger, better, brighter, bolder, perhaps a cathedral in Cornwall would whisper to you and me, “Let patience have its good work, let God reveal His purpose. Take a breath.”
Trust Him with the time.
Still, Eternal One, You are our Father.
We are just clay, and You are the potter.
We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth. Isaiah 64:8
If you find it difficult to take a breath and trust, let me know. I’m here to listen and to pray with you.