Here would I feed upon the bread of God, Here drink with Thee the royal wine of Heaven; Here would I lay aside each earthly load, Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven. Horatius Bonar (1855)
At its highest, communion with the Lord is a letting go, laying aside burdens and making room in our heart for him. Such yielding means that we place all aspects of our lives into his hands. At Gethsemane, Jesus modeled this self-abandonment for us when he said: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (NRSV Luke 22:42).
Using this symbol of a cup at an earlier time, Jesus asked the sons of Zebedee, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink” (NRSV Matt. 20:22)? Viewed in this way, drinking “the cup” has become for me a metaphor for yielding, for obediently embracing whatever lies ahead. And so, sometimes during my morning quiet time with the Lord I think of the day ahead as “the cup.”
It can become many things for me—some mundane, some very serious. For example, I might be thinking, “Dear Lord, if you are willing, remove this ‘cup’ of too many people and too many obligations.” Or, “Dear Lord, if you are willing, remove me from this hot, drought-ridden state.” At other times, the deliverance I need may be a desperately serious one, “Dear Lord, if you are willing, take away this ‘cup’ of my guilt” or “this ‘cup’ of pain and illness.”
In those moments there is really nothing earthly or certain about the relief we’re asking for, nothing natural or assured about the deliverance we hope to receive. Realizing that, we surrender anyway. We drink “the royal wine of Heaven.” We abandon “each earthly load” and aspiration. We say, “not my will but yours be done.”