This is not a theoretical essay.  Rarely, if ever, do my blog posts get all that deep.  It’s not that I can’t go deep but I find that my thinking and writing often flows on a popular, conversing level.  People say “your words sounds like your voice.  I can hear you saying what you write”.  I think that’s a good thing?

I have been thinking about “appreciative inquiry” of late.  Most refer to it as AI for short.  My friends in the farm and livestock industry also use the initials AI but that’s a different idea…(or is it?).   Anyway, appreciative inquiry takes as it’s essential premise that life has both constructive and destructive elements in it.  We can focus on the destructive elements (i.e. problem/solution approach) or we can choose to find the constructive elements and use them to build a better life approach.

I find the problem/solution approach to life to be wearying and life-sucking over the long haul.  If life is a series of problems to be corrected, a bundle of difficulties to be untangled, a sack of situations to be dealt with…well it reminds me of the old poster slogan–“life is hard, then you die”.

Could it be that though there are difficulties in life, yes there are, there are also life giving elements of life also in the mix?  And that by uncovering the life giving elements in the story of our lives, we can build on them for the sake of the journey?

As a Christian I believe that God is never absent, even from the darkest hours of our lives.  Sometimes there are two sets of footprints in our life picture as we walk side by side with God.  Sometimes there is only one set of footprints.  In the second picture it is not that God has abandoned us but rather He has carried us in and through the difficult times.  (One of my friends jokingly refers to a line behind the single set of footprints—that is where God was dragging him along through the hard spots).

So, faced with life, and times when “I nearly died”, the AI approach is to say, “but you didn’t die, you survived.  What kept you alive through it.  Let’s capture that.”  A church going through a congregational crisis can empty itself of energy as it struggles to find a solution.   How about instead of fixating on the present issue, we spend some time examining the issues that started the congregation and gave it initial hope?  Can we re-capture some of that to steer us through the tumult of today?”

God is leading us on a journey. Time and pressure moves sand to pearls, rocks to diamonds, plant matter to oil.  How has God been part of the journey for you even in the difficult stuff?  How does this give help and hope for the future?

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