Filled with family, fun, & church, the weekend was good.
But then came the email. Written politely, kindly, not meant to upset me… it blindsided me. All my fears, anxieties, and inadequacies rushed to the surface and came out in a flood of tears. I went to bed exhausted, worried, full of fervent prayers and tears still staining my cheeks.
There’s that moment, between sleeping and waking, where the conscious and the unconscious touch and mingle. The period when memories of yesterday and all that’s ahead for this day haven’t yet invaded your brain. It’s bliss, really…this free-associating in between; this no man’s land. But in an instant it’s gone. Either the pain of yesterday’s memories or the pressure of today barge in and steal the beauty of a night of rest.
Fully awake, knowing I needed to lay aside my pride and insecurities and deal with the email, I dragged myself from the warm bed…from denial…from escape…and put my bare feet on the cold hard floor to face reality.
I had a cup to drink and it wasn’t filled with coffee.
“Going a little farther, he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” Matthew 26:39
Jesus knew he had a decision to make. Either accept his “cup”: betrayal, anguish and finally death on the cross; or reject it and therefore reject God. For our salvation, He chose the bitter cup at great cost to himself and of infinite worth to us.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” Matthew 16:24
We all have cups to drink. Mine, on this Monday morning, was nothing compared with Christ’s. I know that. But it was still mine and no one else’s. My husband couldn’t drink it. My friends couldn’t drink it, or my kids, or my pastor, or my mom…it was mine.
Sometimes our cups in this life are sweet, overflowing with blessing: magical weddings, long awaited adoptions, miracle pregnancies, financial stability making you able to give and give and give, a happy home, healing from a physical ailment…
Sometimes the cup’s bitter, filled with anguish beyond our comprehension: loss of a child, divorce, betrayal, abuse, financial hardship, the day to day living with a chronic illness, the consequences of past mistakes…
We don’t have a choice but to drink; to live this life. But how we drink it, how we live it, is everything.
Oswald Chambers wrote: “If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom.”
Reading this quote on Saturday prepared me for drinking my cup on Monday. I re-read the email, reevaluated it and my response and decided I couldn’t choose the site of my own martyrdom, all I could do was respond honestly and “drink it in communion with Him.”