July 6, 2012

Proper 9

Filed under: Lectionary,Time and Talent — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 3:01 pm

Here we go again. Poor, afflicted, misunderstood Paul. How he suffers for the Gospel.

But this time I’m going to go with it. My reflection guide for this week asks: How do we find strength manifested in weakness? That question sparked an image that wouldn’t let me go and took me to a place in my stewardship journey that I haven’t revisited in a very long time.

I’m 26 years old, lying in a recovery room. I can smell my doctor’s cologne. I don’t open my eyes as I roll my head in his direction. “Do I have cancer?”

“Yes.” There it was. A calm, firm voice. A single moment of vulnerability defined by a simple fact.

I nodded and drifted off. I knew. And for now, knowing was all I needed.

A few years later, a seminary student asked me what it was like to be a survivor. I fumbled for an answer because, well, I don’t really think about it. I don’t walk around in a hyper-conscious alive mode. Maybe I should, but quite honestly being alive is just part of who I am. So saying, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there’s a stewardship responsibility in knowing that every day since that day has been bonus time—the ultimate gift of abundance. It is humbling to discover what the Holy Spirit has worked and will yet work in me. Sometimes the experience itself is the gift I am called upon to offer.

Consider Isaac.

In my first year of EfM, the mentor pointed out that Isaac appears only in one pivotal scene. After that he just kind of fades off stage.  So what did we think was the significance of Isaac’s story?

After an uncomfortable silence, I broke the tension with, “Um, he didn’t die.

“Exactly!” The mentor almost bounced out of her chair. When the nervous laughter died out, she looked back at me. “Why is that important? What’s the big deal about Isaac’s not dying if we don’t hear any more about him?”

Well…. Isaac is an only child. If he doesn’t grow up to father Jacob, the whole Abraham saga falls apart. The covenant is broken. The entire rest of the Bible never happens!

And therein lies the truth—therein lies the good news—for all of us. Every one of us is an Isaac. Each of us is a child of God, alive in body and in the Word. Our stories are written in every moment, in every day.

When have you found strength manifested in weakness? What offerings of love, compassion, effort, and dedication do your experiences call forth? What will the Holy Spirit work in you, in me, and in us in this time?


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