This morning we visited a church called Iglesia La Fuente. We’re staying in the basement of the pastor’s son, who speaks perfect English, and the church is set up as a bilingual church. It has all the lyrics to the songs in both English and Spanish, and the sermon is always translated by either a man or woman in the back, whose words are broadcast to the entire English-speaking crowd through headsets, or, if there’s more people than headsets, an interpreter will stand at the front and translate.
It was at this church that the Lord began to speak to me about drinking the cup. Of course, we all hear fancy, polished sermons about eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, or about the fact that not too many of us would actually drink the cup of Christ.
We know this stuff.
But somehow, during this service, the Lord touched me deeper than a sermon.
The pastor was about to distribute the communion. He began to explain with several Bible verses how communion was partaking of the body of Christ.
And I’ve heard this so many times that it was nothing new. In fact, I was about to drown out the pastor because I had heard it so many times.
But it was when I read the Bible verse that I got hit.
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread. He offered a blessing over the bread, and then He broke it and gave it to His disciples.
Jesus: Take this and eat; it is My body.
27 And then He took the cup of wine, He made a blessing over it, and He passed it around the table.
Jesus: Take this and drink, all of you: 28 this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you: I will not drink of the fruit of the vine again until I am with you once more, drinking in the kingdom of My Father.
Matthew 26: 26-29 VOICE
Now, I know this is the same repetitive story we’ve all heard a million times – I have too. But somehow, this was different. Very different.
I had just been thinking:
“Communion, in the sense of consuming wafers and grape juice, doesn’t really affect our communion, in the sense of our intimate walk with Christ, for the good or for the bad. It doesn’t draw us any closer to the living King than a donut will. But it’s symbolic. It symbolizes to God, others, and ourselves that we are willing to drink the cup of Christ. Sort of like anointing oil. The oil has no power – it doesn’t matter rather it came out of your grandma’s kitchen or some special spring in Israel – it has no power. The elders’ hands have no healing power – rather they went to seminary (cemetery) or worked under cars – they have no power. It’s all the Holy Spirit.”
So when the Lord hit me, He hit hard.
He asked me, “Elle, are you sure you would make any sacrifice for me?”
It was enough. I knew what he meant.
I knew he meant anything.
Children, job, husband, house, health, safety, stuff, or even my own life.
Now, I’ve always been the one that said, “I’m willing to give up everything!” And I always have meant it.
But something was different. It’s like the difference between reading about the ocean – and knowing it exists – and seeing it – and believing it exists.
It’s like he was telling me that it was more than just what you read in books. Even though books barely spend three sentences on it when a missionary loses their child, it the loss of a child. Still he said, “Would you make the sacrifice?”
It was no longer a question. It was as if I had reached a fork in the road. And the decision was agonizingly painful, yet so simple.
I knew the one route was safety. Security. A stable lifestyle. A job. A house. And potentially no sacrifice.
And I knew the other route was not. It was dangerous and risky. It was the one of following Jesus wherever he takes me. And it had guaranteed sacrifice. Pain. Hardships.
Of course, I had known all along that there was the possibility of hardships and sacrifice. But it was like the Lord had guaranteed them in that moment. He gave me a clear-cut choice. He gave me the terms of the deal straight out – and asked for the signature.
Not that it was a commitment or pledge. It was a choice.
I examined my heart in what seemed to be forever. The dull pain in the pit of my stomach persisted. The Lord would give me no rest.
I’m not proud of it. I ignored him at first. I tried to concentrate on the special time of silence and worship the rest of the people were engaging in. I said, “No, Lord! Now’s not the time!”
As if I knew better than Him.
I pictured what the Lord had done for me. Why did He do it? Because He loved me.
Just because He loved me.
What kind of love is it that God Himself would die for me, a rebellious sinner, for the sake of love.
This kind of love is more than a word.
It’s more than some catchy song or some lame phrase or some sappy movie.
Love is Jesus, dying up on that cross.
I pictured the pain the Lord Jesus went through – just to save me. Just to save me. Just to save you.
I saw the pain.
My mind flashed back to the Bible verse where James and John requested places of honor.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
Mark 10:37-40 NIV
The Lord asked me again, “Will you drink my cup?”
I began to wonder, “Am I ready for all I have let myself in for? Am I going to be the resenting missionary kid until I can get out of the house? Am I going to run from the Lord’s plan because it’s scary? Am I going to be comfortable in my future? Am I willing to make the sacrifice the Lord already made for me?”
It was a fork in the road – and I had to choose.
Let me tell you one thing – you can never live at the fork in the road.
Was I willing to drink the cup?
I didn’t have to whisper anything under my breath. I didn’t have to march up to the front and snatch the microphone. I didn’t have to make a pledge. I didn’t have to give a special offering. I didn’t have to send in an application.
I had decided my fork in the road. I had signed the paper.