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Saturday, March 20, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Luke 6:1-26

There are some moments when you read pieces of scripture in the abstract and focus on their poetic qualities; there are other times when you read those same pieces of scripture as if they are an instructional manual to which you hang on for dear life. You never quite know when you’ll read a passage in which manner.

Take this morning’s scriptural passage from Luke, for example. That passage includes a section most commonly referred to as The Beatitudes. Under normal circumstances, I read The Beatitudes as a lyrical exploration of how Jesus’ values are at odds with the world’s values. I often walk away from The Beatitudes with a warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from an enhanced sense of mission and purpose for my life.

Today, however, I read them as if they were an instruction manual to pull me through challenging times. Let me tell you why I say that.

One of the most exhilarating moments in an individual’s life is when you receive a sense that you are being called to something. I lived that experience last summer and fall as I received a call to go to a new ministry. In the process of answering that call, however, I quickly realized there were tremendous sacrifices that had to be made. Some of those sacrifices were personal (i.e. leaving behind many people that I had grown to love and a ministry with which I had grown comfortable) while others were financial (i.e. trying to sell a piece of property in a historically bad economy). In the process of answering the call, I accrued a tremendous amount of loss in each area.

I had lived through the experience of “losing” people in my life when I had moved away to attend seminary so I had what it would take to live through that series of personal losses. The financial losses were much more of a challenge for me to live through. After six months of exploring every angle available to us to deal with the financial challenges that we had been living through, that coming-to-terms process culminated yesterday when I cashed out a quarter of my retirement to pay off most of the debt that had accrued from the move.

That was a tough decision to make. And then happens? I sat down this morning and read those wonderful words from the Gospel of Luke: “You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all, God’s kingdom is there for the finding…”

Instead of receiving those words as platitudes, I connected with their deeper meaning. I read those words and realized the beauty of what you gain in life when you put something before your material wants and needs. I thought about the series of relationships I have gained these past six months and the challenges and rewards of working with a community that’s in the process of transformation – and how richly blessed I feel from all of this. I wouldn’t have known any of this had I not been willing to take a risk and lose it all.

I know it’s easy in our culture to hold on to the known and the comfortable: to make the status quo a god of sorts. But today I ask you to consider if there is a place in your own life where God might be calling you to take a risk and step out in faith. At first the sense of loss might cause you to want to ignore God’s call – but remember this: there is something far greater than loss that accompanies a call. And that something is the series of blessings that come with it.

Til next time…

1 comment:

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