By Raymond Seaver
After watering the newly planted strawberry roots in my daughter’s country garden, and before mounting my Yamaha to head back into town, Cindy called out: “Wait, Dad, I just took bread out of the oven. I’ll send a loaf home for Mom & you.”
I don’t know about you, but in an imaginary scenario in which one were required to choose a single food item to live on for the rest of one’s life, I’d pick bread like Cindy’s whole wheat.
Jesus was certainly attentive to the physical needs of those to whom he ministered, but it was spiritual nutrition he was concerned with in declaring himself to be “The Bread of Life”1 – our Lift thought for the week.
Some of the folks Jesus fed miraculously the day before on the other side of the lake had rowed across in pursuit of more food. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man [the One who fed you yesterday] will give you.”
“We’d like that food that endures to eternal life,” concedes the crowd. “What must we do to do the works God requires (to get that food)?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life’. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’”
Now there’s a diet one can live with!
Wishing you health and wholeness throughout the week, nourished by The Bread of Life!
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By Sarah Stirma
My family experienced some minor medical drama the week between Christmas an New Year’s while traveling out of state. On one of my many trips to the drug store, I had to stop dead in my tracks. I was perusing the Christmas decorations and wrapping paper on clearance. I turned around to look for more, and was faced with a shelf full of boxes of Valentine’s cards that children will use to declare love for classmates. Before the confetti of the New Year’s holiday is swept up, the shelves in stores are fully stocked with hearts, balloons, and all manner of Valentine props and paraphernalia.
Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s motherhood, maybe it’s global warming, but I don’t think of Valentine’s Day the same way that I did as a young, single woman or newlywed. Valentine’s Day is a fun, light-hearted opportunity to lavish love on those around you, but life has shown me that love rarely looks like the front of a Hallmark card.
Love is not running along a beach hand in hand. Love holds the flashlight in the middle of the night, make-up long gone and tempers flaring, holding your tongue while your sweetie attempts an emergency home repair. Love isn’t demonstrated by dewy eyes across a candlelit meal, but rather by one more run to the doctor or pharmacy when you are exhausted beyond reasonable or rational thought.
Valentine’s Day lends itself to romance. Romance is wonderful and exciting, but won’t take you very far when the stomach bug hits, or your “Love Shack” floods, or one of your parents is critically ill and/or dies. Romance will not be found in any of those situations, but love is there larger than life. Love brings the cool wash cloth again and again for the stomach bug, and mops and covertly repairs damaged keepsakes during the flood, and cries and holds and works and loves with an ill family member.
Love is not rose petals and champagne, but aching backs and work gloves. Love at my house never dances in an evening gown or tuxedo, but love supplies the elbow grease, the patience, the encouragement, and the clean clothes to face each day and, Lord willin’ a comforting place to come home to when the day seems to come out on top. Love is holding tight when no words will fix it, and tears the only language
Love is not a polished, glimmery state. Love is messy, inconvenient, and frustrating. Love is giving up the last ounce of energy, sleep, time, or chocolate for the well-being of another. Love isn’t found in romantic restaurants or destinations, but in hospital waiting rooms, the lobby of funeral homes, and kneeling in prayer next to race-car or princess beds in the middle of the night. Love is less about flowers and cartoon hearts, and everything about the value of another soul on this planet. I guess that’s a little harder to put on the side of a coffee mug.
I will play along this Valentine’s Day, like all the others, and I certainly hope for you to feel cherished on that day. But, later in the year when the toilet overflows while the drama at school comes to a boiling point and work causes too many demands to keep everyone civil, love will be there with a plunger, Kleenex for the tears, and hugs, pats, and kisses for all the things the plunger and Kleenex won’t fix. Consider that your own Valentine’s Day — but don’t look for Hallmark to make a card for it anytime soon.
Love will be there with a plunger!