Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Just a sip…

I WENT TO bed feeling down. I’d had plans for all kinds of projects for the evening to make the most of the time while Marcia was away, but I’d ended up turning instead to an old P comfort.

It had been some time since I’d last given in to pottering (the British term for “puttering”). But this way of being “gently active doing various things in an almost aimless manner,” as the dictionary defines it, describes my coping mechanism for much of my life.

Porn and drugs may have their allure, but they tend to be more expensive in every way—from getting them to getting caught using them to getting disentangled from them. By contrast, simply bumping around the house doing a bit of this and that is positively harmless, right?

But poor choices can’t always be judged by what you do. Sometimes they have to be evaluated by what those choices mean you get not to do.

My outwardly “acceptable” evening—some tidying up, some social media grazing—had really been about seeking false comfort. Instead of moving towards the feelings of missing Marcia and the end of a work day that hadn’t been as productive as I’d wanted, I decided to gently numb out.

All this was still hanging over me the next morning as I sat with a cup of tea and the Gospel of Matthew. Having been working my way through the book for some time, I’d reached the part of Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

I read about how they got Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross, and then how when they reached Golgotha they offered Him wine to drink mixed with gall. I remembered that the Romans used to give this spiked mixture to those they were going to execute to ease some of their pain, as if even they couldn’t live with the full extent of their barbarity.

And then I read in Matthew 27:34 (version?) how “when he tasted it, he would not drink it.”

I don’t pretend to understand all that happened at the cross, why things had to unfold the way they did, but I was struck how Jesus was not going to ease it in any way. He went full-bore into the pain. The night before, in Gethsemane, He’d asked that the cup of suffering might be taken from Him; now, knowing that it had not been, He rejected the cup of softening.

Strangely, comparing Jesus’ steadfastness in the face of imaginable torment with my having folded to momentary discouragement was somehow comforting. It didn’t seem so much like an indictment of the way I’d handled things the night before, as an invitation to handle them differently next time.

I didn’t feel rebuked so much as reminded that even when we turn to flawed ways of dealing with “stuff,” there is a moment when we can stop. Having picked up an old cup and taken a sip, we don’t have to drink any more.

Photo credit: Summer Kitchen via Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA

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