I have a terrible time bringing myself to do what I don't want to do. It shouldn't be so hard. It's a simple requirement of life the rite of passage between childhood and adulthood to willingly and serenely accept responsibility, no matter how difficult it may be.
I patiently walk my five-year-old through the few things that are unpleasant for him to do by telling him there will come a time when he'll have to do many such things. I always sound so grown-up when I do this. But I hear myself and wince. I fear I'm not as grown-up as I'd like to think. I still avoid too many unpleasant things in my own life.
I've been a Christian long enough to amass a string of spiritual equations that can virtually eliminate human responsibility. Lately I've been catching a glimpse of this incredible arsenal of delays, defenses, alibis, and other smoke screens I've stored up over the years to allow me to cohabit with irresponsibility. Some of them are even spiritual.
I've asked myself, "Human responsibility isn't that self-effort? And isn't self-effort merely pride?" When you've got the spirit, the soul, the body, the world, the flesh, and the devil all involved, you can put a lot of responsibility on hold just by trying to figure out who's doing what!
Meanwhile, life goes on, and the things I don't want to do never go away. They pile up one on top of the other until they form one large, indiscriminate mound.
I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane facing something He didn't want to do. Of course, the cup of death He faced and my pile of mundane responsibilities can hardly be spoken of in the same breath, but the principle is the same. Somehow, He got himself to be willing to do what He didn't want to do. "Not my will, but thine be done," He prayed. Maybe I could learn something from His experience.
I certainly wouldn't learn anything from His disciples. They were asleep. They had their alibi. After trying to wake them, finding their eyes were heavy and they had nothing to say, He went back to pray. This time He said, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
There is something very obvious here, so simple it could be missed. There was a way to make the cup of death pass away: drink it.
By drinking the cup of death, He would forever break its power. Avoiding the cup would have allowed its control over the entire human race (himself included) to continue. There was no way out but through it and this is the important point: through it was the way out, the only way out. Drinking the cup of death, He conquered death and unlocked the resurrection power of God for himself and for all of us.
I'm beginning to understand that avoiding responsibilities not only allows them to continue their control over me but it compounds their power. There's no way around this pile. Oh, I can try and step around it all the time, but as it grows I have to squeeze by to get to other things. Like the disciples, I can go to sleep, but then I have to face Jesus with heavy eyes and nothing to say; and when I finally do wake up, the pile is still there waiting for me with a few more things added.
I'm tired of spiritualizing this thing. I'm tired of dragging
it out. I must admit the obvious. There's only one way to get rid of this pile: pile into it.
Besides, I have a feeling there just might be some resurrection power waiting for me somewhere in there.
Chapter 24 || Table of Contents