April 11, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I have been away. I’m taking the good news today from John 12:27-36.
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”
Wow, there’s a lot here to think about! Here’s the biggest difference between Jesus and me — and obviously there are lots of differences. Troubled, Jesus asked himself whether he should pray to God his Father to be saved. However, he immediately answered his own question with the confirmation that his suffering and death was his purpose. Particularly when I am troubled I get stuck on asking God what I want rather on affirming what I know it is that He wants for me, the decision that will affirm my purpose in life, which is obedience to His will for me to love others so that His kingdom may be brought about. That’s the only way in which Satan, the ruler of the world, can be driven out. There is no room for him in the kingdom if I love God, love myself, and love others. That is how I glorify my Father’s name.
When I am troubled I feel like I am lost in the weeds, weeds that rise above my head preventing me from seeing familiar landmarks to guide me. Moloney in The Gospel of John writes, “Jesus turns back to his own situation and faces the terror he feels.” I don’t want to face my terror, my fear. But that’s just what God wants me to do just as that’s what He wanted Jesus to do. It’s only when I am able to face my fear, giving in to it instead of fighting it or fleeing from it, that I am able to surrender myself into the God’s loving embrace. It’s only in acknowledging that it is outside of my power to overcome the fear of pain and change and loss that I am able to accept that life entails suffering and death, but that God is with me through it, that He will raise me again. It’s only in giving up the fight that I’m able to realize that I’m not alone, that God is with me and loves me. Only then am I able to feel joyful because I feel I am one with God, that I am doing the purpose He set out for me. Elizabeth Lesser in Broken Open puts it this way, “[W]hen you finally surrender to a painful situation — when you stop fighting the fear and heartache, and you give over the reins to something greater. When you tire of your own constriction and you open, come what may, to the flow of life, you and your soul become one, and you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
It’s such a paradox and why I resist every time. Moloney writes, “However central the story of Jesus might be, it is entirely dependent upon the Father: the Father leads Jesus safely through the hour, and the Father’s name is to be glorified.” However much I want to think that I am the central story, I’m not. My life on earth is brief; my eternal life is entirely dependent upon the Father. My life on earth is part of my eternal life, though. That’s why Jesus tells me to walk in the light, to walk with him in faithful, trusting obedience to God’s will. That’s the only way in which my terrors, my fears will be overcome. That’s the only way in which I can find my way out of the weeds and find the river of joy flowing through me, the river of God’s unconditional, eternal love for me. That’s how I can live my life as a child of God. First, I have to face my fears as Jesus did.