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Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, Acts 14:1-7

Let It Go

Years ago a wise teacher taught me the ancient game of Go. (Check it out here.) It's a strategy game. The idea is to place your stones in such a way that you encircle your opponent's stones. When you do so, you capture and win the points for the encircled stones. The rules are simple, but the strategy is incredibly complex. The reason my teacher taught me the game was that I had a bad habit of hanging on to things that were not working in my life instead of letting them go and moving on. What I learned playing Go was that sometimes, when you can anticipate there is no way to win a battle for stones, there is a choice to be made: continue to pour stones into a losing battle, or let it go and move on to a battle that can be won. It was a tough lesson, but one I have carried my entire life.

Paul and Barnabas fought hard to win the faith lives of the Jews and Gentiles in Iconium. But at some point, both groups fought against them. They fled to Lystra and Derbe to start over again with a new group of fresh ears. We could look at the fleeing as giving up. Or, in light of the strategy of Go, we could take away that they could see it was a battle they could not win. They made a choice: stay and risk being stoned to death, while failing to win converts anyway, or let it go and move on to challenges they could win. It can be hard, but there is so much out there for us to do, to learn, to challenge ourselves with, people to know, life to live. If we remain stuck trying to have what we can't have or trying to do what we can't do, or hanging on to relationships that drown us, we will miss the opportunity to explore the abundance and grandness that life has to offer us.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 14:1-7

The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.