Resistance is… Necessary

'Janeway & Borg Queen' photo (c) 2011, frankula - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Borg say, “Resistance is Futile.”

I think a truer statement is actually “Resistance is NECESSARY!” 

During the warm-down period at the end of my deep water work out class on Monday, I was thinking about this concept of “resistance.” (I have these profound thoughts as I paddle, lunge, kick and plunge from wall to wall during my deep water running class. )

Water workouts are based on resistance training. Resistance builds and maintains muscle mass. Resistance helps strengthen muscle groups and this takes pressure off of your joints. Resistance is also part of that load-bearing work that keeps your bones stronger, and is good for your cardiovascular system. (I’m sure my doctor does a little jig every time she hears that I really, truly AM doing regular exercise.  See? I WAS paying attention!)

'' photo (c) 2009, ashleigh290 - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In my personal and spiritual life, resistance challenges my resolve. It forces me to prioritize and decide if I really want to do something. And it shows the depth of my dedication. Whether it’s exercise, personal challenges or spiritual discouragement, I have to confess that when I meet resistance,  I either push too hard (because I’m being stubborn) or I give up way too soon (because it’s a convenient excuse.)

But resistance also came to mind as I pondered the verses that we studied this week:

From 2 Peter 1 (Common English Bible):

3 By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. 4 Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.

5 This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love.

8 If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins.

There’s many places where I find it “easier” to reflect “life and godliness” and many (MANY!) places where I struggle. But rather than cataloguing my weak areas, perhaps the best thing to remember is that it is not by my own efforts (in either passive or active resistance) that changes can come.

No, it’s in the first four words of this passage… BY HIS DIVINE POWER… we have been given everything we need. This isn’t some kind of feel-good juju mama magic. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s not the ecstatic, whooping, barking, hooting, dancing work of the Spirit. It’s the day-to-day grind it out business of loving and serving God. Hefting some spiritual barbells, if you will…

That gives me a whole different perspective. It gives me a little more courage to try again and again. It reminds me that when I face opposition, I can base my resolve not on my own knowledge or intuition or sheer guts, but on knowing that I’ve got God’s power behind me. And my resistance to getting personally, spiritually and morally side-tracked will grow.

photo   © 2013   Frédéric BISSON , FlickrThis is a life-long challenge. The road goes on, seemingly forever, with constant challenges on the road of resistance. But I’m ready for another lap.

You want a Revolution? (Oops! I mean… Resolution!)

It all started with this commercial:

Except instead of planning to eat more jelly beans for my personal “revolution” all I could think about was this:

Yes. It’s that time of year… but I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve written about some of the plans I’ve chosen for my personal, professional and spiritual growth. None of them are exactly earth-shattering. They are more about living my faith out consistently, day after day. I wouldn’t say I am trying to live in a way that is revolutionary. I’m just trying to live in a way that changes how I impact the people I care for as a chaplain and a pastor. I want to know that, at the end of the day, I’ve given my best, not think, “Meh. I did stuff.”

It started with the Daily Office readings today where I read these words in Isaiah 62:

Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.

I think I’ve been over-thinking or over-reaching this. It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple, get-off-the-couch, go-clear-theway sort of attitude. To start clearing the rocks that are in the way!

It’s a kind of reboot or restart. The problem is, it’s too easy for me to make excuses or get busy doing something that’s more… comfortable or entertaining or flashy. Picking up rocks? It’s so mundane. So simple. So… hard when it’s been simpler to just let things lie. As my friend Jan Fox says, I need “a revolt to get the jolt!”

Here’s to making the first step today!

Let Nothing Disturb Thee: from Teresa of Avila’s Breviary

My favorite theologians (related to Hobbes) helped me internalize this poem today:

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From Teresa of Avila’s Breviary

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

—H. W. Longfellow (translator).

From: Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets. Collected and arranged by Thomas Walsh. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, 1920.

Thanks to my listening to Pray-as-you-Go, I heard this recording of the prayer by the Taize community. May it encourage you, as it has me.

Synchroblog: What is Emerging?

Emerging Women and Emergent Village are having a synchroblog today…

A number of bloggers are participating today in a Synchroblog on “What is emerging?” While there is room (and need for) discussions regarding what needs to change and heal in the emerging conversation, it can also be helpful to here about where people see hope. This synchroblog was a way for a diversity of voices to tell of where they find hope in what is emerging in the church. From personal experiences to theological reflection, these posts (while not always in agreement) serve simply as witnesses to what is developing in the church today. I encourage you to read these posts, join in on the discussion, and acknowledge the differing voices that make up this conversation. If you want to contribute a post to the Synchroblog leave a link here to add yours to the list.

Where do I see hope? I am quite moved by the work of the Spirit in recent months and weeks…

– People can see that the job is not “done” and there are more conversations for the journey yet to come

Aside from those who have suggested the emergent movement is “dead,” I hear in response the heart cries of many who remind us that it is not an “American” church we are a part of, but a global one. Maybe there are issues which have become moot in many people’s estimations, but the overwhelming noise I hear is among those who are growing more frustrated with those who are insistent on complementarian roles for men and women, want strict adherence to hierarchical organization and a lack of conviction that all of Creation, people included need care and restoration. The job is not done.

–  My daughters will be better equipped than I was to live as they believe, simply because they “get it” that relationships matter

They show me by their conversations and their friendships that it is not necessary to “go out and evangelize” but they are living the convictions of their hearts. If my teen-aged daughters can do it, so, by God’s grace, may I. And I pray that I will remember I do not advance the Kingdom if it is by beating down all those who don’t agree with my hermeneutic, or my agenda.

– I see ever-widening possibilities for women and minorities to “have a seat at the table” in these discussions

Yes, most of the seminaries, books, articles and blogs are written by white males. But there is an ever-increasing number of theologians, writers, bloggers and philosophers who respect the roots of Christendom, but are not bound by its anglo-centric views.

My thinking, writing and blogging continue to pull me into deeper questions and honest prayers to God — because since I am in it “for life” I’d like to do a better job of it all.

Join the discussion at Emerging Women or Julie Clawson’s blog…