Don’t be discouraged when 16 years of work leads to some temporary mud.

3 years and 17 days ago Milwaukee held a meeting to start the bidding process to turn the baseball diamonds and soccer field at Washington Park into a bigger multi-use set of fields.

But 14 years, 1 month, and 9 days ago was when the city adopted a plan to invest into this neighborhood. These specific fields weren’t in that plan but there was a focus on building out the area right next to them.

That plan took time to research and develop, and was itself based on work published in 2004, which also took took time to develop. I don’t think it’s too big of a jump to say that in one form or another someone has had a plan for this field for more than 16 years.

And now, all those years of meetings and planning and effort have given us… a giant dirt patch. Which will become a giant muddy mess on Sunday if the rain forecast holds.

If someone walked by today they might be frustrated that the grass is all gone, or that the baseball diamonds have been demolished, or that all the lights were pulled.

But that person would be only asking about what had been there previously. They wouldn’t be looking to the future.

That person wouldn’t know they walked into the middle of an effort spanning decades, an effort to give the community housing for children in need, an effort to create new educational opportunities for the area, an effort to increase access to healthcare, housing, and space for local businesses to operate.

No, someone walking by this week would only see a baseball field replaced with a bunch of nothing. Worse than nothing, really, because at least grass doesn’t make a big mess when it rains.

It’s hard to see what all the dirt represents. I’m thankful someone saw potential for this field so long ago.

And that all made me think today. Do we have giant fields of mud in our lives? Did we have dreams and excitement a long time ago for something that is taking a long messy time to achieve?

Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But if someone reading this tonight feels like they’re in a big field of worse-than-nothing, that used to be a big field of something, it’s ok. There’s potential there. Even if the project was rebid and delayed and got interrupted and whatever else. There’s potential.

I’m excited for the farmers’ markets and outdoor activities and sports that will be taking place all around here once the dirt is levelled out and grass is planted and some structures are rebuilt. It’ll take some time but that’s ok.

A long time ago someone had a plan for this park. We’re just waiting to see it come together. I believe the same is true of our lives

You have potential. Don’t be discouraged when there’s some temporary mud.

Philippians 1:3-6

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