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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, February 10

I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
—Deuteronomy 30:19

Several years ago, I attended a workshop that changed my life, and if that sounds hyperbolic, read on. The workshop was for ministers and lay leaders interested in the connection between faith and healing, and there were breakout sessions on a variety of topics. The one that caught my eye was called "Leading Causes of Life;" the man leading the session was Gary Gunderson, co-author of a book by the same name.

"How many of you can name the leading causes of death?" he asked. Most of us raised our hands. "What about the leading causes of life?" he asked, and very few responded. "That’s the trouble," Gunderson said. "We only talk about the causes of death, when what we need to think about is what leads to life."

I was hooked, and so were most of my colleagues. For me, it was the most positive, helpful and inspiring set of ideas I had heard in a very long time. "Although there are many causes of life we could name, here are five of them, not in preferential order," Gunderson continued. "They are things that consistently lead to life and can be applied to the whole spectrum ofsociety: people of all ages and stages, institutions, and governments."

Five of the Leading Causes of Life according to Gunderson are:

  • Connection: the web of relationships that nurture and sustain us: family, friends, vocational, social and religious bonds;
  • Coherence: the faith story that gives meaning and belonging to one’s life;
  • Agency: the capacity to act;
  • Blessing: affirmation at a deep level; recognition of one’s worth; and
  • Hope: leaning into the future with anticipation, with one foot planted in reality.

Pick any one of these causes of life and spend time thinking about the thread of meaning that weaves through all you have felt and experienced.

With "coherence," for example, what are the ways in which God has been especially present for you, giving you hope, new insight or comfort when you were grieving?

Notice how the examples that come to mind charge you with new energy and trust in the future. By focusing on connection, coherence, agency, blessing and hope and how they have shaped our experiences, thoughts and feelings, we turn our attention away from death, and choose life instead.

Lord, you have set before us life and death; help us to, more consciously than ever, choose life. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.