We must drink. Or die.
Yet, dare I confess? Too often, miserably too often, I don’t want to drink from His cup.
I thirst for God’s goodnesses. I pant for his blessings. But to drink from his cup? I crave days laced with comfort. Fulfilling marriage with little self-sacrifice. Thoughtful children with meager investment.
Successful work with quick shortcuts. That cup of salvation seems too heavy to lift to dry lips.
And I wonder: is it true too of the body of the Christ? “Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him,” writes Thomas á Kempis. “Many will follow him as far as the breaking of bread, but few will remain to drink from his passion. Many love Christ as long as they encounter no hardship…”
But is that love?
Anxious to molt free of the tightening burden of annoying coworkers, aging parents, demanding children, the responsibilities relentlessly mounting, we plead, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” I make normal everyday problems into a Garden of Gethsemane. I writhe at the thought of daily dying. I pray, “Give us our daily bread, my expected luxuries, but no, I’ll pass on the cup.”
If I pray for no hardship, do I really love?
Aren’t I the one who daily collects God’s blessings like manna? Words from his Word, nourishment cupped in a bowl, lilt of birds lighting, sunlight pooling on floor, splash of sunset at day’s end. Redemption. Mercy. Abundant life. I gather his gifts.
There are times, not frequent enough, when I rouse to it all and ask with the Psalmist, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” (Ps. 116:12).
But the answer the Psalmist offers is the one that I too often choke on, can’t quite get down. “I will lift up the cup of salvation” (Ps. 116:13). Is that why the cup is heavy, too painful to lift? Because in salvation, there is a dying to our wants. And an embracing of his.
So I let him spoon the words in deliberately. So I don’t die. (And yet do.) I sit for hours, waiting for an appointment. A computer rebels before a deadline. A project unravels. He asks me to accept, lift, sip deeply, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup.” Perhaps, in small, unremarkable ways, I too can enter into the communion joy of dying to self? A child wails and clings, and I’m late and the oatmeal burns. Again to open dry lips: “Give thanks for his torrent of good. Lift up the cup. Drink it all down.” Perhaps, in this high calling to humble living, it is possible to remember daily his far greater sacrifice, his innumerable unmerited kindnesses, and choose to give thanks for whatever he gives in the moment—all of it.
Yes, to drink of his passion. In choosing to drink down the moments simply as they come, without chaffing, is this the wholesale gratitude he entreats of us?