By Sherry Black
Reading from Gospel of John, 6:60-71
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
The 1982 film, An Officer and a Gentleman, is one of my favorites, but the happy ending does not come easily. With a goal of flight school, cocky and arrogant Zack Mayo is in basic training as a naval officer candidate. Drill Sergeant Foley discovers that Zack is selling polished boots and buckles so his mates can pass inspection, and he denies Zack weekend leave. Zack spends the time in brutal physical training, miserable in the pouring rain. Sergeant Foley’s goal is to make him quit. Zack is exhausted, but he still refuses. Sergeant Foley starts to walk away, intent on creating orders to kick Zack out. In desperation, Zack sobs after him, “I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’ve got nothing else.”
Lord, where else can I go?
Once upon a time, that was me. I had nowhere else to go, no one to turn to. I had nothing else, and I found that only Jesus has the words of eternal life. That was a life-changing moment!
Still, I need to turn to Christ anew, each day. Many things still get in the way of my relationship with God, turn my heart from Christ. I’m equally sure there are things in your life that get in the way of your relationship with Christ, things you struggle with.
God is calling each of us to turn again to him, to surrender another piece of our idolatrous hearts, so that we can follow God more honestly. Because there’s nowhere else to go, there is no one else that we can go to. Only Jesus has the words of life. We believe, and know, that he is the Holy One of God.
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for nine years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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