The reading from Jeremiah is an invitation to stop listening to the stories we tell about ourselves and start listening to the stories God has to say about us. You are not “less than.” You are “more than.” The God who created you is close by. The God who formed you is still forming you. The God who called you by name, still calls.
Jeremiah bought a field and sealed up the deeds in clay jars and my great-grandmother boarded a ship bound for New York carrying a hand-cranked sewing machine. These prophetic acts were declarations of hope at a time of uncertainty. Both Jeremiah and my great-grandmother trusted that God was not done with them yet; they had a future.
Three years ago last week, I sat on the deck of our rented cabin, looking at the early morning sun break over the Smoky Mountains. My husband and son were asleep in their beds and I was looking forward to the solitude of a cup of coffee with a view that felt like a prayer.
Then I opened Jennifer’s email.
“I have been diagnosed with what the doctors believed to be Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS. Clearly this is not the diagnosis anyone would ever want.”