Choose Life: A Photo Essay


IMG_3689How often, when push comes to shove, do I choose rightly? How consistently do I choose life?

We looked at John 6:15-71 this morning, a huge chunk of scripture, masterfully handled by Pastor Don Johnson, and as the familiar words rolled over me, I was struck by how often and how easily we choose to walk away from LIFE.

John 6 tells us that miraculous healing has happened over and over again, the swirling crowds have been fed, and the disciples have been comforted in the midst of a storm. 

But for so many who are watching, listening, hungering — what Jesus does is not enough. There is a greediness to human nature that impinges on so many of our life choices, a desire for more. And Jesus recognizes it, telling those who will listen that they need more than full bellies if they want to truly live: they need the bread of heaven, the BREAD OF LIFE.

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Jesus invites them — and us — to go deeper, to grow in trust, to stop hunting for the next free meal. He pushes them, hard.

“Stop asking for more manna – I am not Moses. I am MORE than Moses. I am the Bread of Life.”

We were reminded this morning of the fluidity of the groups that clustered around Jesus – the crowds, the ‘Jews’ (or enemies — those who were vehemently opposed to Jesus and all that he did and taught) and the disciples, which was a larger and more diverse group than the 12. There were women disciples, too, there were old folk and young folk, there were people from all walks of life, there was a wide variety of people who listened and learned and changed. 

But at this point in his ministry, at this push-back point, some of that larger group of disciples melt back into the crowd, and they walk away. 

They walk away.

Why? Because of these words: 

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

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And the verb Jesus chooses to use to describe this ‘eating’ is the rough-around-the-edges one, the impolite one, the messy, noisy, colorful one: crunchJesus says. Chew, gnaw, masticate — make a mess and be enthusiastic about it. Give it your whole self.

Give it your whole self.

Choose life!

As he watches many of those who called themselves disciples exit the scene, he turns to that closest circle and asks, “You too?” Do they, too, find him too much, too embarrassing, too demanding? 

And Peter, bless him! — Peter says these words, which just may be my very favorite words in the entire New Testament:

“To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

As I listen to Peter’s heart cry, I discover that I am encouraged. I am reminded to keep chewing. My heart is gladdened to know that Jesus invites me to be a bit messy, to listen well, to learn of him, and then to live and pray and serve and speak with passion and commitment.

I, like Peter, choose LIFE. I choose to eat the Bread of Life with thanksgiving and with gusto.

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And this week, we looked for and chose life wherever and whenever we could find it.

After so much sadness last week, it was sweet to remember that the goodness of the Lord can be found in the land of the living.

So we happily watched a grandson play basketball.
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We enjoyed the beauty of a California sky after rain, as we sat at a school playground,
IMG_3628as we drove along the ocean’s edge,

IMG_3636as we enjoyed the view from our favorite cliffside vantage point,

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as we walked along our favorite sidewalk.
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We found and relished LIFE in the faces of our dear ones, old and young,
IMG_3621in the littlest pilgrim, at her Thanksgiving feast and program,

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and in the joyous discovery of a friend’s new book, lining the shelves of my favorite book store in the world, Vroman’s in Pasadena.

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I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting that friend — and taking my daughter to hear her speak — and to be reminded by both Sarah and my girl that God’s creation design is for men and women to work together, side by side, under the leadership of God alone. 

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We joined two dozen of our friends at church to offer an evening of beauty and food and friendship to 180 international students in our Family Life Center, enjoying the up-front goodies,

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and the behind-the-scenes scrambling.

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These are small things, spots of light amid much darkness. But they are filled with life, with the goodness and faithfulness of God, with the beauty of creation and the joy of family and community.

Sometimes, I can too easily feel buried by the pain, by the loss, by the darkness. But if I will remember to keep chewing, to let go of fear and embarrassment and laziness — then I discover again that I am full, filled to overflowing with the Bread of Heaven.

I am ALIVE, and I am grateful.

Joining this with Michelle, Laura, Jen, Jennifer and Ann this week:

 



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Comments

  1. A perfect meditation for this Monday morning — beautiful Diana. I was struck especially by this — “Stop asking for more manna…I am the Bread of Life.” Yes.

  2. Thank you for your wisdom, Diana: “Go deeper, grow in trust, stop hunting.” Oh, yes! God has all the bases covered–What freedom and peace of mind he offers! Thank you also for the beautiful affirmation and examples that prove: “We are already full, filled to overflowing.” Praise God!

    May you have a glorious Thanksgiving, Diana!

  3. This is filled with meat for my soul. Thank you for sharing this wisdom with us, with me.

    Diana, I have been meandering (wondering too) through your site, landing upon the journey with your mother (and also mother-in-law. My precious Mama lived to 98, almost 99, the last 15 years with increasing dementia plus diabetes and a few other issues. She remembered much but was confused often too. (May I recommend a fine book that you don’t read straight through but by the pages you need at the moment: “The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss” by Nancy L. Mace. if you haven’t heard or read it already.)
    I, too, moved my mother (from San Diego to south Texas) where she resided in assisted living and finally a nursing home due to a severe ankle/lower leg break. The roller coaster ride that I, as caregiver, lived on for those years was so difficult, yet I would not change my role for anything. I hold you and your mother and family in my prayers.

    Anyway, thank you for the lovely California pictures as I am originally from San Diego and taught/lived in the Orange County area. May your Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • Oh, Linda, thank you for these kind and generous words of understanding and grace. I own that book, but have not yet read it. Soon, I hope. I’ve read a couple of memoirs by daughters who cared for their moms and those have been rich and helpful. I am grateful for your words here. Thank you.

  4. Our minister preached Sunday on this very same thing – the manna, those who just couldn’t buy into believing He was the son of God and Peter’s answer – that God fills us up completely so that we hunger and thirst no more – oh, how I loved seeing that message echoed – it is so worth hearing again and again. I love your photos, too – such happy faces and blue skies!!! Wishing you a joyful, blessing-filled Thanksgiving!

    • Don’t you love it when the Spirit weaves together our hearing and our reading? Thank so much for letting me know this was one of those times for you. And may you be blessed in this Thanksgiving celebration as well!

  5. So sorry for the loss of your aunt, Diana. You give such a beautiful reminder to remember the gifts–to notice them, memorize them, give thanks for them. To remember that when we have the Bread of Life, we have all we need and so much more.
    May your Thanksgiving be one of joy and peace and life.

    • Thanks for these so-kind words, Julie. I really like your idea of memorizing the gifts – yes! Thanks for stopping by and blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  6. Thanks for the reminder to stop asking for more manna.

    And, I love the beautiful way you chose life this weeks … encourages me to pay attention.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  7. Diana, you have such a gift of making the gospel so alive and real and down to earth. And your photos show what that looks like–choosing life and giving it away. What a joy to meet Sarah Bessey irl–I’m sure you were a great encouragement.

  8. Beautiful, Diana. I’m glad you are finding some balm in these sweet moments. And, wow! You’ve had some good ones. Seems like you were right where you needed to be this past weekend, but you were missed. Much love, lady.

    • Thanks, Laura – and lots of love shooting across the sky to you, too. Part of me really missed being with you all, and part of me was truly relieved to not be in all that cold. I don’t do well in cold. :>(

  9. Crunch. Don’t just nibble at the edges. Take a big bite of life and chew it well. I, too, am glad you’re choosing life in this time of the long goodbye. You’ve been on my heart all weekend long. Love you.

  10. Dear Diana,
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful crunch of your life in words and photos…love it, and your lovely heart 🙂

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