On Mondays, we’ve been considering Jesus’ question, “Can you drink the cup…?” using the cup as a metaphor for life.
An evangelist came to our county fair the summer I turned 11 years old. At the crusade, I sat one row in front of my mom. I was quiet but not paying attention when my mom tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Do you want to go up there and give your life to Jesus?”
I awoke from my daydream, saw a few people standing and walking into the aisle, and nodded, thinking, Yeah, sure. Who wouldn’t? So, I went forward and “gave my life to Jesus.”
A few days later school started, and we were all trying to fit in. Meredith, a girl I knew only from a 2nd grade birthday party, didn’t fit in. She had just returned to our town from living five years in England. She had an accent. My girlfriends were making fun of her–something I would have readily done a year before. But this year, I paused, weighing my newly-acquired Christian teachings against my previous pattern of being cliquey in order to remain in the popular crowd. I asked myself a question: Do I want to be popular, or do I want to follow Jesus?
The Yeah, sure, I said when devoting myself to Jesus was easier at the crusade.
That’s what it was like for James and John when Jesus asked them if they could drink the cup that he was about to drink. After the initial, easy yes comes many harder yeses. Sometimes it’s an excruciating, “Only if I have to.” In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with saying yes right before dying on the cross.
I think what we’re really saying yes to is, “Can I trust God?” Author Henri Nouwen says about this trusting:
- “It breaks through all human calculations and expectations. It defies all our wishes to be sure in advance. It turns our hope for a predictable future upside down and pulls down our self-invented safety devices” ( Can You Drink the Cup? p 107).
In 6th grade, I said yes again to Jesus, declining risking the scorn of my friends, choosing to be kind not cliquey. The Holy Spirit helped me then. He has helped me many times since. And he’s helping me today to hold, lift, and drink the cup.
This is Jadell Forman’s final blog post for The Neighborhood Café. She has said yes to an opportunity to return to the acreage where she grew up raising sheep, and to write her book Good Shepherd, Guide Me: Field Notes from a Shepherdess.