Saturday, February 1, 2014

My word for the year (and next year...and the next)

Beve and I drove down to the old cabin today that my grandparents bought right after World War II. The picture above is of the original cabin, and from this view, hasn't changed much in my life-time. One can only barely see the electric light mounted on the worn shake siding and it's impossible to know that not only electricity but that new-fangled thing called plumbing runs things inside now. From here, I can imagine a metal bucket on the corner of the porch just hauled up from the well, a dipper hanging on the post where we'd drink whenever we had a thirst for refreshment or needed to brush our teeth. Under the house, through that blue-trimmed door, is a real cellar, with a dirt floor and all kinds of tools, bats, basketballs, volleyballs, stuff I can't even begin to name. It has a particular smell, that cellar: it always smells cool and damp, but like childhood to me, no matter what time of year, no matter how old I am.

Our errand today was delivering a refrigerator we've had sitting in our carport for the last six months. We meant to take it there last summer but life has a way of getting in the way. You know how these things go. This morning Beve got up, looked at the clear sky and said, let's do it. So we did. It's not that long a drive to our cabin, but always feels like a lifetime away. Maybe a lifetime back, perhaps. I'm just so assaulted with memories, even on a short errand as today way. I walked around taking pictures and my life comes rushing back.

Beve and I had a great conversation on the drive. We've always been good communicators in the car. When our children were small, we had our best conversations driving across the state to the grandparents' houses. They'd fall asleep and we'd talk--for hours. Nothing to distract us. Even now, when we don't have children dangling from hips or bumping into us with need, we buckle our seat-belts and words flow between us.

Like many people I know, Beve has been thinking he wants a word to concentrate on this year. He's been batting around a few words for the entire month of January without settling on one. So we talked about that. I told him that I've never thought of a single word because every year, every time it's suggested, the same word (or a synonym thereof) comes to mind. The word is SURRENDER. Those of you most familiar with me are probably nodding and smiling right now. Thinking, "Of course, it's what she's always going on about."

It's true. Surrender is where everything starts for me. "You know what the most powerful word in the Bible is (for me)?" I asked Beve. He likes that kind of guessing game. He always says the most outlandish thing he can think of, just to make me laugh. Like, "pomegranate" or "Leveticus." As usual, I rolled my eyes and laughed.
"Nevertheless," I said. "It's Nevertheless. And it's not even in the newest translations--but the idea is."

It's the Nevertheless that Jesus says in the Garden of Gethsemane. It's the Nevertheless of His surrender. He'd been praying, praying with such intensity that He was sweating blood. Sweating blood--that's what the scripture tells us. Now I don't know about you, but I've NEVER prayed that hard. I've never done ANYTHING that hard. I don't even know what that would be like. But Jesus did.

He'd just been saying, "Father, take this cup from me..."
That's the first clause in the sentence. That clause tells us a whole lot about Jesus, about what He was giving up. Superficially we might look at those words and imagine that what He was most concerned about losing was His life. But I cannot believe this was the case. For the whole of His earthly ministry, He'd been talking about what the end would be. He KNEW that losing His life was part of the deal. Was the WHOLE DEAL, really.  No, what I think make His blood sweat, or made Him sweat blood (which might be the same thing!) is that as the time drew near, as it was 'at hand,' He was losing communion with the rest of the God-head for the first time in eternity. He and His Father had always been one--From creation on. From BEFORE creation, come to think of it. But in that Garden, Jesus, the Incarnate, was facing the loss of that Oneness. And it was a bitter loss. I don't know that any of us can imagine that loss because none of us on earth has perfect communion with Him.

But He knew what He was losing.
And said, "NEVERTHELESS..."
How powerful that word is. It all hinges there. Yes, right there.
"Take this cup from me;
Not my will but Yours
Be done."

And so it was.
Jesus Christ's obedient surrender, His willingness to lay down His life, His communion with God, meant that we got both, that we get ALL that and eternity besides.

We toss around the words, "Not my will but yours be done, Lord." We use them to punctuate our great hopes and justify our desires. However, what if we start there? What if we start with surrendering our hopes and desires, and THEN, begin to pray? How much more would He use us? Surrendered lives, poured out.

Surrender is always my goal.
Because--I believe that HE is better at caring for my life than I am myself.
That's the bottom line. Isn't it?
Jesus knew and trusted in the Father's plan. And prayed for THAT.

I have to learn this lesson daily. Hourly. That's why Surrender is always my 'go-to' word. There just isn't another. He hasn't finished teaching me how to live a surrendered life yet. Or maybe I should say it thus: I am still too in charge of my own life. And to the degree that I am, there is still more of me to surrender. Perhaps once He's finished this process, He'll just take me home. Maybe it really is just that--a lifelong process. Okay then.
Until I reach the throne room and see Him face-to-face, I'll just keep going on about surrender.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I remember singing "I Surrender All" oh so many times as a youth and then as a young wife, mother, and so on and so on..and I would always sing it with such conviction of heart and soul..."All to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all..."...and then I'd walk out of the church and take up my burdens again and go right back to doing things my way. Surrender is a difficult word to live up to. But it is something we need to keep committing to do...and letting God take care of the rest of the details. "Not MY will, but THINE be done...on earth as it is in heaven...". Good post. Thank you for the reminder to wave our white flags and let Jesus be the Victor in our lives.