Category: Lent

Day #12: Improvisation

During their journey, as they camped overnight, the LORD met Moses and tried to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a sharp-edged flint stone and cut off her son’s foreskin. Then she touched Moses’ genitals with it, and she said, “You are my bridgegroom because of bloodshed.” 26 So the LORD let him alone.
-Exodus 4:24-26

So, uh, Trigger Warning: this reflection contains references to circumcision and murderous God. Exodus 4 is a strange story any way you cut it (no pun… never mind). Before we get into details, it’s worth noting that in the U.S.  roughly ¾ of infant boys are circumcised. The Centers for Disease Control actually recommends male circumcision for public health reasons. This story is early in exodus, after the Awe of the burning bush but way, way before Moses’ Boundary Setting (this is either referred to as the A.A. or the B. B. S. part of Moses’ life).  It’s strange, in part, because God was the one who sent Moses on this journey back to Egypt. Now God goes on a murderous rampage? We cannot overstate the weirdness of this story. But we can relate to the ways faith often requires improvisation, and Zipporah improvises before God. In circumcising her son, she ensures Moses will have maximum credibility with the Hebrew people he’s been sent to lead out of Egypt. It also sets the stage for Moses’ lifetime of improvisation, building a radically counter-Egypt culture in the middle of the desert with a group of nomadic escaped slaves. Moses’ whole life is like a massive improv show with God throwing the scene prompts. Resilience comes in the willingness to improvise when threatened.
Takeaway: The number one rule of is improv theater is to say “Yes, and…” Take what’s given to you and instead of denying or resisting it, add to it and turn the narrative a different direction. When you find yourself in a sticky situation today, say, “Yes, and…” Is there a way in which Zipporah—in this scene, in marrying a bicultural Hebrew man, in joining her husband’s social justice project, in returning to visit her father—says “Yes, and…” to God? Is there a way she says “Yes, and…” to despair? Channel the power of “Yes, and…” today.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Third Sunday of Lent 2019: The Old Testament Passage – Provisions and teachings during Lent

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
In our household we use a lot of milk. Not very much wine – hardly any! But we use a lot of milk. We try to keep at least one full gallon of milk in the refrigerator because an open gallon of milk is usually an empty gallon of milk. We go through a lot of bread too. It seems like each member of the family likes a different type of bread; not just brown or white. But country white and 100% grain brown, and the more mundane as well. That does not count the rolls and buns we also use. Yes, milk and bread are frequent purchases; a purchase means someone has to have “labored” for it. We are no different, in that respect, than the writer of Isaiah’s audience.
The writer of Isaiah (using the voice of the Lord) goes on to talk about food items more rich and tasty than just bread and milk. And at no price! Well, sign us up! Of course, bread and milk, and other delicious food are just metaphors for living a contented and well-provided life. Still the question remains – what do we need to do (if not labor) to acquire this life?

“Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.” (Verses 3 – 4)
If we just listen to the Lord, we will be the recipients of the same sort of covenant that the Divine made with King David?! We that sounds pretty good! However . . . . if one stops to think about all that King David went through, maybe it is not as simple and straightforward as it first appears.

Listening to the Lord and living for the Lord comes with its own set of priorities and statutes. It is not a life that is lived out quietly and unobtrusively as it first sounds.
“See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” (Verses 5)
King David lived a life that was constantly on public display. When he did things correctly, his people demanded more of him. And when he did not live correctly all of his mistakes were on display. The writer of Isaiah does not disclose the “price” of the Divine’s bread, milk, and wine. The price is not dollars and cents but living a life that confirms to the Divine, and not to our human frail will. The writer of Isaiah is correct though – our human frail will does not “satisfy”. We labor and pine after things that are not good for us, or more precisely not good for our human spirit and soul.
“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Verses 6 – 7)
And it is these last two verses the outline the difference between our thinking and the Divine’s thinking.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Verses 8 – 9)
As I remembered and anticipated these last two verses I could not help but think they explain so much about the difference I see in the Almighty that strides through the story of the Israelites and Judahites. Did the writers (the ones that wrote the history of the Israelites and Judahites) assume they knew the “ways of the Lord”? Did Isaiah, then, have a more accurate and attuned perception of the Divine?
Wondering about this, I went back to check in on the biblical commentators. And discovered I differ from them entirely on the meaning of these last two verses. The biblical commentators (actually I only looked up Albert Barnes, but I am sure the others come from the same perspective) take these last two verses as referring to forgiveness and pardon, and that the Divine forgives, pardons, and is merciful in ways that humanity is not. But that does not really connect with how this passage starts – seeking the wrong types of things, listening to the Lord and entering into a covenant like the one David had with God, and having attention brought to you because of the way you live.
What do you think beloved reader? I am not sure that anyone can, or should, say that one interpretation is more correct than another. The ways of the Divine encompass more than just forgiveness and pardon. If that were the case, the only case, we would be free to do whatever we want and still be assured of a pardon. No, it is more complex than that.
Lent is a complex season; recognition of sin and the way we have erred. The example set down by Jesus Christ. The expectations that the Lord God the Divine has. The gnarled and tangled road of the called and chosen people of the Old Testament. The new revelations and teachings in the New Testament. All of it seems to come together during Lent. And we are had pressed to discern it all.
I guess for me, I have to go back to the beginning of the passage. Listen carefully to the Divine. Chose the best way to live according to the example of Jesus Christ. And delight one’s self in living a Godly life. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Day #11: Nonconformity

Why not test your servants for ten days? You could give us a diet of vegetables to eat and water to drink.
-Daniel 1:12

No one wants to stick out like a sore thumb. But what if you could stick out like a very polite middle finger? That’s what Daniel does in the verse above. This is Daniel before the Fiery Furnace (or, if you will, Daniel B.F.F.). Although Daniel is born and raised in a middle/upper-middle class family in Jerusalem, he has the bad luck to come of age at exactly the point when his nation-state gets obliterated by the Babylonian Empire. Educated and healthy, Daniel gets deported to Babylon to join the slave class of the civil service. Essentially, it’s an invitation to become part of the system that destroyed his life—if he can prove his loyalty to Babylon and reject his cultural and ethnic identity. It’s conformity and cycles of violence marketed as resilience. The first step of his journey is formal palace training, which means formal palace rations—including all the foods Daniel is not supposed to eat as a Jew. Daniel pushes for a nonconforming diet and after ten days he gets approval for this clean eating plan. It’s more than a nutritional win; it preserves his Jewish identity and a small piece of his core values. It’s an F-you to a system that demands conformity with values like wealth disparity, violence, and anti-Semitism. There would be no Fiery Furnace without this small act of integrity. Nonconformity is Daniel’s lifeline back to the values he shares and the person he wants to become. It’s his first refusal to become part of a system of oppression, and his choice to become resilient in a system that threatens to erase his history.
Takeaway: We live in a culture that loves to market the status quo as resilience. Our culture sells oppression back to us at every turn, insisting patterns of systemic oppression are necessary for self-care. Where is it easiest for you to fall into systems of violence, consumerism, environmental degradation, exploitation? Be consciously nonconforming today. Maybe that looks like calling your senator about gun violence or making art instead of watching Netflix or being vegetarian for a day. Maybe it means tipping your Uber driver $15 (congratulations—you may have just doubled their take-home salary for the hour). Do something that gives a polite little F-you to the systems of oppression that structure our lives.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Day #10: Confidence

But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know such things as these?
-Job 12:3

It’s hardest to write what you don’t feel. In all honesty, when I looked at my notes for today’s topic, I wanted to skip Confidence. I’m not feeling very confident at the moment. No reason; I’m getting miles of positive feedback right now that should put my confidence through the roof. But emotions are fickle things, they don’t always follow logic. Which is perhaps why I’m turning to Job for insight on confidence. As a book, Job is mostly an argument between friends and at this point, it’s getting heated. Just before this, Job made the sarcastic comeback, “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you,” (meaning, you will be the death of wisdom). For 37 chapters, Job’s friends insist he must have done something to be abandoned by God and there must be some “everything-happens-for-a-reason” feelgood conclusion to the tragic death of all his children and livestock and also his sudden painful acne. Through it all, Job’s confidence gives him resilience. He argues that everything doesn’t happen for a reason, that God is not out to get him, and that God loves him. He stays confident that he is no less deserving of love that anyone else and, after 37 chapters, God jumps into the argument to take Job’s side. Sometimes, confidence is the willingness to insist you are deserving of love and dignity—even when you don’t feel it, you keep speaking it as truth. Because somewhere deep down, you know it is.
Takeaway: Ugh, now you (I) have to go live out the confidence you (I) don’t necessarily feel. Borrow a cue from Job’s resilient strategy—“I have understanding as well as you,” he says. Job gives himself affirmation to get through this argument and to insist on his worthiness. Write down five quick affirmations for yourself. Any topic “I have great eyelashes,” “My home is just perfect for me,” “I like that I went to the gym yesterday,” “I noticed a robin this morning.” Pick one of those affirmations and write it 10 times (or more). Because it’s true, every time. And sometimes you just need to hear it 10 times to remember that it is.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Day #9: Boundary Setting

“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing isn’t good. 18 You will end up totally wearing yourself out, both you and these people who are with you. The work is too difficult for you. You can’t do it alone.”
-Exodus 18:17-18

The first time I had the pleasure of quitting my job, I walked into the small corporate yogurt shop and announced it was my last shift. My supervisor said, “Would you mind working out your two weeks’ notice?” and I replied, “I don’t think you’re paying me enough for that.” I felt a twinge of guilt as I spoke, but I’d made my decision. I knew I was on the edge of collapse and the functioning of a low-traffic minimum-wage-paying froyo shop needed to be a lower priority than my sanity. Moses has a more crucial job doing dispute resolution, but it’s untenable and he needs to set a boundary. It’s his father-in-law who realizes this first (an outsider and, interestingly, not among the Hebrew people Moses escorted out of Egypt). Moses is on the road to burnout, which is eroding his capacity as a leader. He needs to adjust his leadership style for the health of the community. Resilient people anticipate their limits. They know when the community begins to rely too much on one person and they shift their commitments to extend their energy and impact. A resilient leader knows they are not the answer to every problem—part of their work is to empower the community to find other solutions.  Resilient people say no, and they learn to delegate.
Takeaway: Say no to that one thing: that positions or role you are more than capable of doing, but cannot do without draining all your energy. It could be serving on the PTA event planning committee; the church volunteer position you do because no one else will; an obligatory but exhausting social commitment. Say no. If you’re doing it because “I’m the only one who can do it,” then you are not obligated to do it—you are obligated to help the community find alternative ways to function that do not require draining the life out of you. You don’t have to stay at the froyo shop. If you’re the only one keeping the doors open, maybe the community doesn’t actually need froyo.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Second Sunday of Lent 2019: The Gospel Passage – Warnings during Lent

“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ “ (Luke 13:31 – 33)
I do not know if the Pharisees here were “friendly” and genuinely concerned about Jesus in warning him. Or whether they were goading him by telling him Herod had it out for him. And in fact the bible commentators agree with me(!) that it could have been one way or the other. But the warning to Jesus was not the only warning in this passage.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Verses 34 – 35)
The city of Jerusalem and its people have made poor and faulty decisions in the past. Yet Jesus has compassion on them, and is concerned that their decisions will cause them anguish and distress. When the sun is shining and all is well with her chicks, a mother hen will watch them as they peck and scratch. But when dangers looms she gathers them under her wings and protects them at the peril of her own life.
Jesus will not abandon us when we are in need and in harms way. But if we run from the protection – in a sense, disregard what Jesus has to teach us, guide us, and warn us against – we place ourselves in peril. Now, beloved reader, where would you seek shelter when the storms of Lent assail you? Shalom and selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Day #8: Generosity

 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here, eat some of the bread, and dip your piece in the vinegar.” She sat alongside the harvesters, and he served roasted grain to her. She ate, was satisfied, and had leftovers.
-Ruth 2:16

Bread. Vinegar. Toasted grain. It’s a simple meal, but for a subsistence community, it’s a generous one. Boaz owes nothing to Ruth for her courage to show up in the field—she is allowed to be there, by law, and to glean, but Boaz owes her and the other working-class women who glean nothing. Yet Boaz extends generosity. He gives to Ruth above and beyond what the law requires. Maybe he just thinks she’s cute. (There’s always the cynical interpretation.) Or maybe he knows there are no guarantees in life but in this moment he has more than enough and who is he to keep the more when he has enough? Maybe Boaz is just resilient. Resilience is generous. Intriguingly, recent scientific studies show generous people tend to report greater happiness, lower depression, and better physical health. Perhaps it’s because they’ve traded a scarcity mindset for a mentality of abundance—they spend less energy keeping others out. Instead of “what’s mine is mine to keep,” they say “what I have been given is mine to give.” They know that there is more to gained in giving than in defending. Anything we have been gifted—food, shelter, love, friendship—is ours to re-gift and magnify and multiply. What I have been given is not mine, but ours, and we will always be stronger in generosity than in selfishness.
Takeaway: Be generous today. Give before it is asked. Give more than what is asked. But don’t give what you don’t have to give—give of what you have in abundance, whether that’s cash or time or compliments or a freezer full of blueberries or a sense of humor. Share it generously with those you meet today, so much so that they will have leftovers.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Day #7: Awe

 Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.
-Exodus 3:3

You could forgive Moses if he’d kept to himself. After all, the reason he ended up as a shepherd in the Midianite desert was because he couldn’t keep his nose out of other people’s business when he was a teenager in Egypt. But when Moses sees a bush on fire—a fire that keeps burning, not spreading and not dying—he lets himself get carried away. He says, “let me get closer to the thing that amazes me.” And, the next verse says, “When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush.” And Moses responds, “Here I am.” Moses says “Here I am” to standing in awe. He says yes to being blown away by the sheer reality of being. Humans are very good at rationalizing their way out of awe, at keeping the miraculous and the unfathomably breathtaking at bay. Resilience, healing from wounds that threaten to harden your heart, is about remembering to stand in awe of goodness. It’s about coming to terms with the world’s greatest paradox: that beauty exists alongside, within, inside of, pain. And when we choose to blind ourselves to the awe-inspiring, we do so at the cost of our own resilience.
Takeaway:  Today, say “Here I am” to awe. Be easily impressed by stunning sights, or even by moderately cute ones. Be amazed by the fact of being. When something heartwarming catches your attention, let your heart be warmed. Spend three extra breaths with it. Stop to smell the flowers. Get caught staring at burning bushes. After all, how often do you get to see one?
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Second Sunday of Lent 2019: The Epistle Passage – Pleas during Lent

“Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.” (Philippians 3:17 – 18)
Paul is very sincere in this – shedding tears because some “live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Part of the reason is that he becomes profoundly disturbed in thinking that some may be lost to death and destruction because they are outside of the will of our Lord God Jesus Christ. Part of the reason is that Paul remembers when he was “Saul” and lived apart of the Lord God. And part of the reason, I think, is that Paul becomes perturbed that any one would live contrary to the rules of the Lord God Jesus Christ. And finally, I think part of the reason is that they are such a bad example to new and vulnerable Christians.
“Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.” (Verse 19)
As fervent as Paul was in persecuting new Christian believers, he is as fervent or more so in protecting them, and nurturing them. And encouraging them to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ and the new life that is to come for them.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.” (Verses 20 – 21)
Paul’s plea is also the plea of Lent. To resist temptation and stand firm in one’s beliefs no matter what you may see others do and hear of them doing.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.” (Chapter 4, verse 1)

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Day #6: Courage

 Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field so that I may glean among the ears of grain behind someone in whose eyes I might find favor.”
Naomi replied to her, “Go, my daughter.”
–Ruth 2:2
Elanor Roosevelt is supposed to have said, “Do something every day that scares you.” Maybe she was thinking of Ruth, who took that maxim to its extreme, when, after the sudden death of her husband, she followed her mother-in-law to a foreign country and then insisted on providing for them both. In this verse, Ruth takes her courage and, first, confronts her mother-in-law about her plan and then, with her mother-in-law’s consent, walks out the door to execute it. Courage is more than persistence. Persistence is the exhausted cheerleader inside your brain waving a half-hearted just-get-through-the-game pompom. Courage is what happens when, given the choice, you choose the path with the greatest possibility even though it terrifies you. Imagine what would’ve happened if Ruth had chosen to stay home—never made a career as a professional gleaner, never met Boaz, never married Boaz and provided for her mother-in-law. Not exactly: because of cultural convention, Ruth probably would’ve eventually ended up married to one of her mother-in-law’s relatives—but because of her courage, she gets a level of choice and consent in her marriage that was otherwise impossible. Courage is choosing to stay an agent in your own life when you have the option to become passive. To happen to the world instead of letting the world happen to you.
Takeaway: Of course your task today is to do something that scares you. A big scare or a little scare, but something to take that amorphous cloud of fear and stick it into a courage-shaped jar that fits in your pocket. Sign up for that salsa class; make a plan to pay off your credit card debt; call the therapist whose number you’ve had for weeks. Do something that scares you—because you’re already scared, the difference is that today you’re doing something. 
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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Second Sunday of Lent 2019: The Old Testament Passage – Doubts during Lent

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” (Genesis 15:1 – 4)
The season of Lent is rife with tests, trials, and challenges. Some minor consisting of abstaining from small things. Other challenges are major tests of our faith and beliefs. We have talked about such challenges in days past. Abram was challenged to believe that the Divine would be able to fulfill the promises made that Abram was the start of a long lineage. Especially since his family line, at that point, ended with him.
It reminds me somewhat of the assurances I was given during my radiation treatment. Now there were challenges – challenges to my body and my faith! But all those promises have come to pass – Praise the Lord!
“He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.”
But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.” (Verses 5 – 12)
Abram sort of has a pattern going here – hearing the promise of the Divine and taking it into his heart. But then starting to doubt it. I found myself having the same pattern when I was going through the last days of treatment and the week or so after. So many people told me it would get better; but all I could see was how bad it was at the moment. I have an idea of how that “deep and terrifying darkness” might have felt.
“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates….” (Verses 17 – 18)
Imagine, if you will beloved reader, the dark of a desert night; the sounds of “birds of prey” that have been denied food; other noises beyond sight but within hearing. A man alone with only dead carcasses to keep him company. And in the darkness light coming and consuming the offerings. Suddenly the smell of burnt meat fills the air, and the sizzle of the meat consumes the senses. It is not the sweet incense of worship that we are accustomed to. But burnt acrid smells that remind us of how pale and frail life is that it can be so consumed.
It is those earthy scents reminding us of the precarious balance between life and death. We can cling to our doubts, and consign ourselves to a life that ends with our own demise. Or we can take a leap of faith that there is more beyond this life and that extends into the life to come. Shalom!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Fast from Complaining, Feast on Appreciation

Ash Wednesday has come and gone, the first Sunday of Lent was yesterday, and I still haven’t decided what to give up or add for Lent this year. One year I gave up listening to the car radio, and learned to appreciate the silence as I drove. Another year I added a jigsaw puzzle, although … Continue reading Fast from Complaining, Feast on Appreciation
Syndicated from April Yamasaki

Day #5: Persistence

If you have raced with people
and are worn out,
how will you compete with horses?
If you are at ease only when in a peaceful land,
how will you survive in the forest
along the Jordan?
-Jeremiah 12:5
Imagine receiving an invitation to a party that says, “This is not your type of party. In fact, you’ll be miserable. But you will gain so much. You will learn so much about yourself, you will make close friends who ease the frustration, and you will stick to your principles.” Resilience is about knowing when to accept the invitation to adversity—not to go out seeking adversity for the sake of being noble, or self-righteous, or the perfect student of suffering. But to understand when adversity is part of the process of becoming. Jeremiah (the one who bought the field on Day #1) knew this. He committed his life to advocating for justice and the prosperity of his homeland and, when that failed, to teaching his city resilience. It’s exhausting work. Early on, Jeremiah complained of fatigue–the above verse is God’s response. It’s irritating advice. But it’s irritating because someone—in this case the Architect of the Universe—has more confidence in you than you do in yourself. Someone else believes, in the words of folk songwriter Carrie Newcomer, “You can do this hard thing.” Sometimes the only way through is through. Sometimes it’s worth it to compete against the horses, even if you lose, because you will gain something greater: Love. Integrity. Resilience.
Takeaway: What adversity are you avoiding? Maybe it’s a difficult conversation with a friend, a restructuring of your budget, a confrontation with a coworker. Whatever it is, today write yourself an invitation to adversity. Take 10 minutes and begin, “Dear [Self], You are invited to….” Remember, the ultimate invitation is to persistence—you are invited to this season of challenge because it will strengthen you and your community, because it is necessary work, because you are hopeful and worthy and present for the challenge ahead.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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