Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? Mt.20:22
All of my vices are liquid.
(Disclaimer: Before I come home to an intervention from concerned readers, no, I am not an alcoholic. I am a glass-of-wine-with-dinner/occasional-girls-night-out-margarita kinda gal.)
In the early mornings, I creep downstairs to wrap myself in God’s Word and my grandmother-in-law’s heavy knitted blanket. I cup my hands around a steaming mug of milky-sweet coffee, immerse myself in Truth, and settle my place in the day ahead. The snug cup suspends me in a moment of quiet reflection that infuses me with life for the whole day. An opportunity to soak in warmth through the curved comfort of a hot coffee mug.
The late afternoons are the hardest part of the day. My children derail in obedience or kindness at some point in the hours between 3 and 5pm. My patience deflates as my evening expectations inflate. I fold laundry, cook dinner, pick up clutter, set the table, parent relentlessly – while hungry and exhausted. I remember that I am dust during those hours of wearing thin. When Scott gets home, I sometimes pour us both a glass of red wine – a jeweled invitation to release the long hours of carrying office and home on weary shoulders. An opportunity for renewal over a stem glass of California red blend.
Sometimes we spend evenings with friends. We laugh, joke, relax, relate, tell stories, listen and enjoy each other. We order tableside guacamole and margaritas all around (on the rocks with salt) as we greet the simple happiness of a eating a meal with people who just like each other. An opportunity to knit strands into a tapestry of relationship over a salt rimmed margarita glass.
The cup that we hold and lift we must drink. Henri Nouwen.
Drinking has power to infuse life or death. A coffee break, a pre-dinner cocktail, a toast, a wine tasting, a tea party. To refuse a drink communicates lack of value; to accept is an offering of goodwill. I am aware that my daily coffee and the occasional cocktail do not give health to my body, but they breathe vigor into my soul through what they represent. They are invitations to a deeper, richer life through meaningful rituals of liquid life-giving.
Jesus drank a harder cup. He lived an extreme life as he threaded His mission into the hard skin of this fallen place. The voices worshiped Hosanna, then spat Crucify Him within hours. Jesus spilled his liquid love on the dry pocks of this savage earth, leaving a wake of controversy and adulation, scandal and worship. He absorbed it all, not as a martyr or a hero, but doggedly, simply, missionally.
Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? Mt.26:42.
What cup has the Lord poured for you? We have an opportunity to merge our missions with His, to drink His same cup of salvation to the dregs, spilling life and love through our obedience. Right now I sense that my Jesus cups my face in His hands, reminds me to look only at Him, catches my eyes as I try to pry them away. Do not put your eyes anywhere else but on mine. Stop looking for personal justice, because I have a mission for you. Will you walk in it? Will you drink the cup I offer you?
Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? (Mt. 20:22)
Can we willingly swallow injustice, abuse, suffering, loss and death for the sake of our mission? Can we take in a full portion of fallenness now for the hope of glory? Can we nourish ourselves with self-denial? It is not wrong to drink the cup of joy with gratitude, but there is a deeper, more hidden grace in the cup of suffering. Mingled together, they are Life, the cup of salvation.
What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. Ps.116:12-13.