For those who know me, you are aware of my struggles with despair and purpose following my deployment to Kuwait. Typically, Sundays have been difficult for me, and today has been no different.
Today's lectionary readings included Psalm 121, which spoke directly to me:
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
The gospel reading was from John 18: 1-11 and I was struck by Pastor Carillo's explanation of Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, took on the sins of the world to save us all. But, he did not do this without asking God, as a child petitions his father, to beg for release:
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
My study Bible comments that "Jesus did not die serenely, as many martyrs have. He was the Lamb of God bearing the penalty of the sins of the entire human race." I cannot imagine the weight of that sacrifice and I am humbled. But I have not surrendered as Jesus has. Like that stubborn two-year old, I am still telling God, "I can carry this."
Fortunately, he has surrounded me with angels. But it is still a struggle as my short-term plans involve getting through the next five minutes and my long-term plan is stringing together a bunch of short-term plans.
I did enjoy the radio selections on the way home. We listened to U2's "Mysterious Ways," then Katy Perry's "Firework." Yes, even though I still feel very much alone, God has not left me bereft.