Monday, March 23, 2015

Valinda Bolton
It was a stunning, spectacular and unexpected defeat. I lost a re-election bid in an Election Day tsunami that really had nothing to do with me personally, and yet had everything to do with me. The day after I found myself with a job that would soon end, and no plan and no prospects. It was a small glimpse into what David felt when he said "my eyes are worn out in angry sorrow" (Psalms 31:9) and when he felt "ridiculed by his adversaries" (31:11). And yes, if I'm honest I felt that many I had tried hard to serve had repaid me "evil for good, leaving me desolate" (35:12). 

What saw me through were faithful family and friends who loved me and treated me exactly the same post-election as they had before, which is to say, the same as they did before I was elected in the first place. They laughed at my jokes, asked for my opinion, sometimes got irritated at me for good reason, encouraged me, hung out with me, and propped me up. In short, my faith community was a Davidic voice holding out the truth that God is unfailingly faithful and that through God we will have the strength to bear the troubles we meet. My loss was relatively minor, but all around me and throughout my life there have been those who suffered so much more and hung on to their faith and belief in what God can do.  

They were like the great example of the blind man in John, who realizing all that Jesus risked in giving him sight, seems to say, I am bound to stand by him because of all he has done for me.  And because these good people believed it, I worked to believe it until eventually my sense of a loving God whose grace is available to all once again became stronger than a sense of God as capricious and arbitrary. Over and over I kept thinking of that wonderful hymn, Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go.  Exile, especially self-imposed exile, is an ugly place and I avoided it.

When I first read the scriptures given to me to write this JourneyLent blog I thought, "Wow! What a random assortment of scriptures. What am I supposed to do with this?" It did occur to me that they were probably not pulled randomly out of a hat, but I couldn't seem to find a common thread. My initial take on trying to find a theme was something along the lines of: Life can be really hard, heart-breaking and scary; Grateful there is God! 

So I thought about it, mulled it over (which is kind of like praying with your eyes open), and, in the interest of full disclosure, read some commentaries written by people more knowledgeable than me. I thought about my own journey and the more difficult walk that others I love and admire have walked.  What I came away with as a theme for these verses taken together is: Life can be really hard, heart-breaking and scary; Grateful there's God! And Easter!

During this Lenten season do you have definitions of what it means to be successful that is keeping you from feeling the true depth of Gods grace given to you?
If you are facing struggles during this season, are there ways that your faith community can prop you up?  Will you let them?  


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