"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Bitter, bitter cup

A full, overflowing cup of pain, sickness and sin.  A cup full of rebellion, apathy, and hatred.  A cup full of stench, slime, and darkness I can hardly imagine.  This is the cup He was asked, intended, sent to drink.  This cup, this disgusting cup, is what my Jesus wrestled with the Father about that lonely night. He must drink it. 
...he fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me..." (Matthew 26:39)

When I really look--- I mean really take a long, thoughtful gaze---at my sin, it deeply grieves me.  The sin in my husband's life, my kids' hearts, and the sin in my friends... these too can bring a heaviness that sickens my soul.  I can just smell our sin and feel unwell.  And, I only have a taste, one small waft, of the stench of our sinful hearts.

My Jesus drank deep from this cup.

My sinful tendencies, habits, attitudes, thoughts and actions fill the cup that Jesus chose to drink that dark night in the Garden.
And, oh!, am I so glad He did.

Tricia Rhodes, in her book Contemplating the Cross, asks me to think for a moment, "Try for a moment to imagine the cup the Father holds out. Look into it.  What do you see?" and then she invites me to ponder further, "What would your life hold today had Jesus dashed the cup to the ground, refusing to drink it's bitter dregs?  Don't rush with this question.  Evaluate it deeply, pondering days and nights of an existence without redemption."

Days and nights without redemption.  The words alone bring grief and sadness to my soul.

Days and nights without forgiveness and mercy.  ...without grace.   Think on it just a moment...  a life lived without His peace, release and freedom.

When I linger on this thought for even a moment...  Oh!  The gratefulness in my heart wells so full and so deep, I can hardly contain it!

How do I even begin to thank you, my dearest Savior?  Thank you for drinking in my sin!  How do I even begin to worship You aright? Words can not express what you have given me in this choice, this obedience, this drinking.  You have brought me near!  You have loved me with an everlasting love.  You have released me and filled me and washed me white as newly fallen snow.  You have made this crooked one, this wounded child... me... straight and whole!  Teach my soul to see you, to see me, to see this world rightly with your eyes.  

"I want a principle within,
Of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.

If to the right or left I stray,
That moment, Lord, reprove,
And let me weep my life away
For having grieved your love.
Give me to feel an idle thought
As actual wickedness,
And mourn for the moment minutest fault
In exquisite distress.

Almighty God of truth and love,
To me thy power impart,
The burden from my soul remove,
The hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain
My reawakened soul,
And drive me to that grace again,
Which makes the wounded whole.
~Charles Wesley, "I Want a Principle Within"

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