Mark 14:36 36He said, ‘Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’
I know Advent is only a few weeks away (have you done your Christmas shopping yet?) but it is this verse from Mark that has played over and over in my mind for weeks now. Jesus is in the garden and asking that he be spared but he surrenders to what will happen and for that reason we have the resurrection and our Faith Tradition.
Now I am not one who believes that G-d incarnated Himself just to be hung on a cross for my sins or anyones sins. My belief is that G-d had hoped, we, his most recalcitrant creation would listen to the Word of Jesus and transform our lives and the world. I believe that for two reasons: first, Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples and anyone who was listening that the Kingdom of G-d was now, not in some future date, but now. And, I believe today the Kingdom is now if only we open eyes and ears to see and listen as G-d intends. But we don’t because, well, we don’t.
The second reason is the G-d I know and love would never deliberately send a beloved child to their death. Yes I know we have lots of stories in the Bible of G-d using violence but we have even more stories and words that express how much G-d loves and cares for us, especially those who are marginalized. So Jesus was hung on the cross because of the blindness and deafness of the people he only wanted to transform. We today are still pounding those nails into Jesus hands and feet because we are still blind and deaf. We have yet to transform and recognize the Kingdom all around us.
And, that brings me to my latest meditation. First of all the imagery of the cup has been an important one for me for over a year. I have wrestled with the cup placed before me and realized how bitter that can be. I also know just how sweet the cup is. I was devastated when a small minded official denied me a temporary visa to study in Switzerland and that was a bitter cup to swallow. But I have discovered how sweet the cup has been in the last number of week’s as I have come to new insights about who I am as a spiritual being, and what my future ministry will be with God.
But the primary image is of Jesus’ surrender to the path laid before him, saying not my will but yours. Surrender, that word is loaded with many images. There is the image of a soldier standing in front of his company waving a white flag as they surrender to an enemy. Or, picture a child being held down by a bully and crying “uncle” in order to get away from their tormentor. But it also has some wonderful positive images. Surrendering can also mean release from suffering. I have been with the elderly who have surrendered to the inevitable and come to a time of peace about the end of their lives. I was with my father in the last days of his life as he lay dying from cancer and I watched his face as it became peaceful and accepting of his discovery he wasn’t going to overcome the illness, but instead was headed toward something sweet, even if he didn’t know what that was.
But it is the image of an individual who has reached rock bottom in their lives from substance abuse or something they have done or has been done to them when the ultimate surrender happens that has the most importance for me. It is the image of someone who has nowhere else to go but up that holds my attention. I have been in that place partly of my own doing and partly of the worlds. I know what it means to be at the bottom of a well and yelling at G-d, “I give up; you fix it because I can’t.” It took a great deal of faith and trust for me to let go and let G-d take over. I am a control freak, at least over my own life, and always want, and still do, to take the reins and run with them. I want to tell G-d what I will do rather than wait and listen for what G‑d wants.
But there is a liberating feeling to that surrender to G-d’s plan. While I have to keep reminding myself that I surrendered remembering it opens me to the possibilities of seeing and hearing in a totally new way. I see everything around me differently, everything becomes new. It is as if I have put on a new pair of glasses and now I see clearly for the first time in many years. Does that analogy sound familiar to you? It should.
In each of the Gospels we have stories of Jesus healing the blind and opening the ears of the deaf. These may or may not have been factual healings. Jesus was known as a healer and I have no doubt that he was an exceptional one. But these may also have been metaphorical stories about people who are spiritually blind and deaf who reconnect with G-d and creation. They find the path that lead back to G-d and life.
I want to say I have again found the path, but I must admit I seem to keep losing it. Mostly because of my own ego and arrogance that tells me I can do better by myself. But I am blessed that G-d has had so much patience with me. Letting me stray and then return with a bruised and humbled ego, kissing my wounds and saying “welcome home.” This prodigal daughter must constantly pray, ‘I surrender,” because otherwise I forget.
I am currently in a period of discernment about what direction my life and ministry will take. It is hard waiting for G-d to speak, but I am praying over and over again, “I surrender, let not my will but yours be my life.” I am beginning to see a path again and it is in the feeling of being surrounded by loving arms that is keeping me pointed towards that path. I don’t know if I am ‘seeing’ correctly yet but I have time to figure that out. There will be a cup at the path I will have to drink from, sweet or bitter, I don’t know which it will be, but if I have true faith. If I am committed, loyal, hold my allegiance to, and grow my relationship with, G-d I know I will be Ok; more than Ok, sweetly happy.
“I surrender to you Oh Holy One,
in you I put my trust,
in you I give my loyalty and allegiance,
my life is in your hands.
If I should stray from your arms
guide me back with your love.
Open my eyes to see your light,
open my ears to hear your voice.
Love holds the key,
life is the door,
surrender turns the handle.
You oh Beloved wait on the other side.
Ruth Jewell, ©November 13, 2012
NOTE: I did not request the highlighted words, they just appeared. I am trying to find out how to remove them, but if I can’t please know that Wordpress added them not me.