faith, Pandemic Wisdom

Are You Up for a Challenge?

It was the bluebonnets that did it for me. This weekend we made a five hour trip across Texas to see some of our loves. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life. Never have I seen the bluebonnets out like they are this year. And not only the bluebonnets, but all their friends, showing off in vivid red, pale pink, bright yellow and then seas and seas of blue.

I kept saying out loud, I’m just so proud of the bluebonnets. My traveling companion/husband finally said, Can you explain why you keep saying that? I couldn’t believe it wasn’t obvious. I started preaching, because of the Texas freeze, the freeze, remember the freeze? Less than two months ago this whole state was frozen solid with temperatures at zero for days. Lots of pipes didn’t make it. Whole large trees didn’t make it. Entire swaths of bushes didn’t make it. But the bluebonnets not only made it, they are flourishing and they brought their friends. I’m so proud of them!

I’ve made this same drive many times and it has never been so beautiful. It filled me with hope. It seemed like a tangible sign that we can not only survive hard times but possibly come out of those times even brighter. The fact that it was Easter weekend was just icing on the cake. On Easter Christians celebrate God’s surprising ability to bring life and Light out of the places we were sure were filled only with death and darkness.

Richard Rohr, a theologian, says that creation is the first Bible and God has imbedded it with spiritual truths. I believe it. For me, this weekend, the bluebonnets were all about new life and resurrection.

I guess my pride should not be in the bluebonnets alone but in the resilience of everything God created. Humans, amazingly, are imbedded with this same resurrection energy. The very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. Romans 8:11

We have all been living through tough, frozen, tomb-like times. We have weathered a great deal these past months and now, (thank you science and vaccines), the corner is being turned. Light it as the end of the tunnel. Easter is here.

I sometimes forget that Easter isn’t just a day, it is the beginning of a whole season. Eastertide begins on sunset of the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.

We have more than one day to practice Easter. We won’t get it right, that’s why we call it a spiritual practice and not spiritual perfection. We get 50 days to practice new life.

So here’s a thought, what about a 50 day challenge to notice and embrace new life in all its forms? I think we will do better at the 50 day challenge if we write down the 50 bits of new life and hope we see. By Pentecost, which is Sunday, May 23, we will have fifty real life signs of new life on our lists.

For many months we’ve focused on dark numbers of cases of Covid 19 and deaths. We’ve been distracted by closures, lockdowns and politics. We’ve seen injustices happen before our very eyes. We’ve been glaring at those who believe differently than us and shaking our heads in disgust that they could think and act that way. We’ve been making tally marks next to the names of those who have offended us, betrayed us or lied to us. We’ve worried about food, jobs, the economy and everyone we know. But now it feels like a new day and the bluebonnets started it.

Let’s make a different kind of list for just 50 days and see what happens. The Jesus Calling devotional entry for April 6 talks about a discipline of thanksgiving. This is one way to engage in that discipline.

The 50 Day New Life Challenge: each day, notice and give thanks for one bit of new life, one sign of hope. That’s it. See what God will do through that.

I’ve started mine:

Day One-the bluebonnets survived, thrived and brought their friends to the highways of previously frozen Texas. Thank you God for this colorful and amazing new life.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To read more blogs, see upcoming events, learn about the Weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call she co-hosts live each Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle, go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com. Women, Last Chance: you have until end of day Tuesday, April 6 to sign up for the either in person or virtual retreat at Camp Gilmont in East Texas. All women are invited. Theme: Soul Spa 2.0: Soul Tending in Uncertain Times. Check out http://www.gilmont.org and click on Women’s Retreat for more information. Today’s photo taken by Daryl Dagley.

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