Author: Nicole Speer
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.
At some point during the previous administration, when our government was yet again kidnapping children of color, glorifying white supremacy, rolling back hundreds of environmental regulations, and trying to destroy the last vestiges of our democracy, I reached a point where my pain with how far our world was from where we needed to be became overwhelming. As someone with an abundance of empathy, I couldn’t handle the scale of suffering I was witnessing. Rather than trying to dampen my pain, I started including a phrase into my daily prayer: “Use me to advance your work in this world.”
I prayed this prayer for the better part of a year, not sure where God would take me but knowing that I had reached a breaking point. I would go wherever I was called.
Last summer, I heard a call from some members of our community who saw my desire to promote love, compassion, and justice and who named out loud a place for me to be of service. As I reflected on this call to action, I realized the life path that had seemed so haphazard and random, from student to wife to scientist to mother to businesswoman to Christian/activist, was neither haphazard or random. It was carefully and intentionally setting me up for a new role that needed a unique blend of skills and perspectives.
I have been working to prepare myself for this role since hearing the call. But as my time for embarking on this next step of my journey approaches, I find myself fixated on the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. For all my prayers to be a better servant to love and justice and compassion, now that the moment is here, I am worried about the burden this next step will place on my husband and children. I am grieving the loss of time with my family and friends. I am scared to let go of the safety and comfort of work that is familiar and known. And I am bracing for the attacks that will inevitably come on my character, my values, and my abilities.
Yet, not my will but Yours be done.
Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on the fact that following the path of Jesus inevitably ends in death. Not physical death, which visits us all in time, but the death of our previous selves, the lives that existed before we were reborn as the body of Christ.
This work of living and dying for our faith is sometimes painful and frightening. But as I was reading the three versions of the Gethsemane story once again this evening, I noticed a line in Luke’s version of the story that doesn’t appear in Mark or Matthew, that I hadn’t paid attention to in my previous readings:
Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. ~Luke 22:43
It made me think of our congregation and the way you have strengthened me for the work ahead. As I grieve and worry and find myself once again asking God if I really must walk this path, our collective faith gives me strength. With you as my living examples of God’s unending love and commitment, I commit anew to the work of building the Beloved Community, and I move forward with resolve.
Challenging Creator, may we all find the strength we need to faithfully follow the paths you have laid out for us. Amen.