during my years at soybean bible the writings of henri nouwen were essential to my spiritual health. however, in the years since i left soybean and, later, l’arche daybreak behind, i have only revisited his writings rarely.
i am starting to suspect that my indifference is a mistake.
a couple of nights ago, after receiving news that yet another friend is mired in the midst of crisis, i took can you drink the cup off the shelf. i can’t remember reading this little work before, but i confess that it has served as a remarkable sacrament in my life this week.
i must confess that much like james and john, i often lust for influence and recognition in the Kingdom of God. as a fully equipped servant of Jesus, i consider myself a significant member of Jesus’ mission and expect to be included in noteworthy, if not successful, incarnations of God’s beauty, truth and goodness in this world. in short, i want to build a successful and meaningful career on the back of the one who humbled himself and made himself obedient to death on a cross. fortunately, in response to my foolishness Jesus neither rejects me nor reviles me as "satan," but simply asks: "can you drink the cup?"
henri has helped me to see that responding to this question requires me to pause and consider whether i have the courage to hold the cup of our great suffering and great joy in my hands; in full knowledge of the cup’s bittersweet contents, i can lift the cup and offer a blessing in the midst of curse and whisper rumors of life in the midst of death; and, ultimately, drink the cup of suffering and joy to the dregs.
in the midst of my longing for success, Jesus is calling me to become fully human. as much as it pains me to admit it, he could care less whether i have a successful career or whether i continue to wander through occupational hell for the rest of my days. Jesus has not promised me an honored position, but he has called me to be a parable of his grace and truth. further, Jesus has not sent me forth to construct a respectable curriculum vitae, but he has given me the mission of weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn.
leave it to Jesus to deconstruct my delusions and unravel my expectations with a single question: "can you drink the cup."