“Choose life,” the prophet says. Choose life over the deadly ways of lesser gods. Choose life over all that shines, sparkles, and glitters. Choose life over what you possess and over what possesses you. It sounds so easy and desirable. Sure, until Jesus comes along and names the cost right out loud. If we truly choose life, we have to let go of everything. Years ago I had a therapist who told me that the choice to live or die was mine.
Many years ago I was the interim pastor at a small church and was free to celebrate Pentecost without regard to that congregation’s tradition. We decided that it would be confirmation day for the small group of youth who had been going to classes and they wanted red balloons among other things. This was long before I knew anything about latex allergies so red balloons it was. They were tied in bunches all over the sanctuary and there were red streamers galore. It was a day of joy to be sure. Until a balloon escaped and wrapped itself around a ceiling fan.
When Jesus first walked into my life, I didn’t notice. There was no parade, no palms, no shouts of hosanna. I just started going to Sunday school. A couple of years later, I felt my first call to ministry but I didn’t recognize that for what it was either.
Many years ago I became an advanced open water diver. If you’ve never been scuba diving, it is the most peaceful, beautiful experience. It’s just you, the sound of your breathing, and all the wonders the ocean has to offer. Two of the reasons I chose to learn to dive are that I am claustrophobic and I am afraid of sharks. You’d think that a person with both these things would avoid diving, right? Yes, except that I cannot tolerate my choices being ruled by fear.