Imagine for a second that you’re at a fine outdoor restaurant when you notice that there’s a gnat in your water glass. What do you do? Most likely you politely call over your waiter and point out the problem. Would you be shocked and dismayed if he used his finger to pluck the gnat from your glass? Sure you would. You expect to receive not only fresh water but a new clean glass as well.
Allow me to change the setting. This time you are reclining on your own back porch, and sipping from a cup of the most expensive wine you have ever purchased. This vintage 1982 Dorn Durkheimer Rheinblick Auslese comes at a cost of $450 a bottle. Again you look down, and notice that there is a gnat in your nearly full glass of wine. What do you do? Do you dump out the entire glass of expensive wine or instead do you discreetly reach your own finger into the cup and pull out the gnat and continue to enjoy your wine?
In the first example above the decision is clear. You expect nothing less than a replacement glass of water. In the second scenario, the decision is not quite so easy. Do you choose to pluck the gnat from your wine and continuing to drink away or do you cringe as you dump out your cherished wine?
Now let me get to today’s main point. Imagine if you will that your life is a cup of wine. Imagine that all of the sin, sorrows and pains of life, along with all of the joys and blessings of life are not gnats but instead the dregs from the bottom of the wine bottle. You see them floating there as you stare into your cup of life. The cup of your life is unlike the water at the restaurant or the wine on your porch. The difference is this, your cup cannot be dumped out or exchanged.
Your life is your unique cup and yours alone to drink. No one else can drink your cup and you cannot drink someone else’s cup. You have but one cup and it is the cup that you hold in your hands. There might be a lot nasty things floating in your cup that you would prefer not to drink but you don’t have that choice. You might see your own addictions, compulsions and obsessions. You might taste the bitterness that this broken world has added to your cup. But in the end, you must drink your cup, dregs and all.
In the book CAN YOU DRINK THIS CUP by Henri J. M. Nouwen which inspired my writings today he states: “When each of us can hold our own cup, with its many sorrows and joys, claiming it as our unique life, then too can we lift it up for others to see and encourage them to lift up their lives as well.” We lift up our life, our cup; in a toast to others and we say the Hebrew words L’CHAIM! L’chaim means “to life.” What a great toast!
Later in his book Nouwen states: “Life is full of ups and downs—but we do not have to drink our cup alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
Celebrating and drinking our cup of life might be scary. We know that in Matthew 20:22 Jesus asked James and John: “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Now, today, He is asking us the same question “Can you drink this cup?” Can we accept and embrace the only life we have to live? Our initial response may well be: “please take this cup from me.” Jesus once asked His Father the same thing in Matthew 26:39: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
We know however, that Jesus did in fact drink His cup. When Jesus peered into His cup our sins were what He saw. He knew how bitter His final cup would be. But He embraced His cup as the cup of the new and everlasting covenant. He drank every drop so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have eternal life.
So as we look into our cup, no matter how bitter it might be, can we embrace our cup as we say to our Heavenly Father: “Father not as I will but as you will.” Can we take off our mask of false pretense and allow others to see the contents of our cup, both good and bad as we raise it up? By sharing our cup honestly with others we can all celebrate this New Covenant in Jesus Christ together.
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