Me: “OK, God, can’t you see that I’m in the midst of doing all this for You? Look at all the services we’ve planned! See how creative they are! We’re doing such a great job telling that Passion Week and Easter story. So, that being the case, how about you take all this other stuff away? You know, as in, ‘Let this cup pass from me.'”
God, “I think you may be missing something.”
Above was the conversation taking place in my mind a few minutes ago. With a worship service looming this evening, I heard about the father of one of my members being near death. For many reasons, I knew I needed to get to the hospital. Immediately. So, off I went.
After that important time there, I sat in my car for a few minutes, my mind filled with something perilously close to rebellious and grumbling thoughts. The week, fully loaded anyway, again with all that creative and wonderful and carefully planned worship, had also landed me with a very, very difficult problem in the life of this church that cannot not be ignored. And which has taken, and will continue to take, heaping amounts of time and energy to resolve. Now, this possible death will cause major derailment in the life of someone whom I love profoundly. And upon whose faithful service I depend.
And then, there is my ongoing concern, in these days of being measured in effectiveness only by numbers: Will mine look good? Will enough people show up for Easter Worship that the worship average will raise appreciatively for the year? Will enough money land in the offering plates to deal with a year where we are already showing a deficit?
I began to think of those who do rarely attend worship and who might still have vestiges of a need to attend on Easter or Christmas. Those numbers, in my experience, are growing fewer and fewer. And I don’t blame them. We pull out all the stops and create spectacular worship on those special occasions but . . . have we not just bought into the whole, “if we don’t entertain them, they won’t come back?” syndrome? And if so, how consistent is it with who Jesus was and what Jesus did and taught? Haven’t we just presented the lie of an easy Christianity rather than the truth of a narrow and complicated path to perfection in love?
I wonder if we (I) are just putting on an act for the sake of something that is false at its core.
I wonder if I really am willing to say, “Please let this cup pass from me but . . . above all, Your will be done.” What if it is God’s will for me to serve a church whose numbers don’t look good? What if it is God’s will for me to take a hard hit for betrayal by someone I thought I could trust with my life? What if it is God’s will for me to go out alone, a failure, despised and rejected, covered with stripes, weeping in abandoned pain?
I wonder if I am really willing to follow Jesus all the way to the cross, to go into the darkness of that death, to wait until the Spirit of God is able to bring about a resurrection.
This is what I signed on for when I followed the call into the ministry of the ordained. But oh, I do so want this cup to pass from me. Yet . . . yet, not my will. No, not my will here. Thy will be done.