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Drinking the cup of Jesus

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jeremiah 11:19, Psalm 7:2, John 7:43-44

I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.

They will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

The people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

Jeremiah had no idea what disaster the people plotted for him. David knew he was in great danger and was very frightened. Jesus predicted everything. His own death was clear in his mind. He knew what was coming.

The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has affected me so much. He spent two years in Nazi prisons before finally being executed. A biographer wrote,

He even inspired his guards with respect, some of whom became so much attached to him that they smuggled out of prison his papers and poems written there ... his ability to comfort the anxious and depressed was amazing (including Soviet leader Molotov's nephew) ... we have heard that his fellow prisoners were deeply impressed by the calmness and self-control which Bonhoeffer displayed even during the heavy bombing of Berlin at the end of the war.

But Bonhoeffer was human. He loved the world he lived in. He missed his family and friends, missed the sunshine, and he fell into sadness and despair like everyone else. One of those smuggled-out poems was entitled "Who Am I?"

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerless trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Lord, let me grasp and cherish the victory you achieve in me every single day I live. Your breath, your peace, your joy. The fruit of your spirit. I am yours.

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