By Amy Schlag
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘‘this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14: 23-25).
Almost each day, when I look at my mail or email, I receive numerous offers, promising great things, products that will change my life forever, and make my life fantastic, usually offered at little or no cost to me. You probably receive many of the same things. And if you are like me, they go straight to recycling or they are deleted from email. We have been taught to know better. Every now and then, one might catch my attention, but the first thing I do, like many of you, is go to the fine print. I know something is hiding in there, something that will render this good news a very bad deal, and disappointed I dash it into the recycling. Although, when I put it in the recycling, I am careful to tear it into small pieces, for we live in a time when throwing away our trash can be dangerous. One of these errant pieces of mail could go from bad deal to identity theft. We can’t even trust that garbage is garbage or that our identity is ours.
If you are like me, you probably just wish they would stop being delivered, in all their myriad formats.
There are several truisms we all know by now, and certainly one of those is if it is too good to be true then it is not true. And one of the reasons it is not true is that these offers, are offered from with power, to one with lesser power, and those with the power want to leverage it to greater power. In those too good to be true situations, the bank has the money that will save our house, the loan companies can pay for us to go to school, and the pharmaceutical company has the key to magical weigh loss or clear skin. We need, they have, and they are of course going to take advantage of that need. So we are deeply skeptical.
And, if we are honest with ourselves, despite our skepticism, we have all probably fallen for one of these too good to be true situations. Loans, credit cards, free vacations, weight loss, friendship, love. Of course we have. We are human. We need. We are forever searching to fill a need deep within ourselves. Something that will make everything feel whole and give us peace.
We are disappointed when the weight loss never happens, and the promise being of thin and desirable eludes us. We are frustrated when the free vacation to paradise felt a lot more like purgatory. And when the loan we took out to help save our house, just ends up being another debt we cannot repay, we are left feeling hopeless. We are disappointed in ourselves for falling for it, and promise to read the fine print more carefully next time. Our trust has been compromised.
And the hurts are often much worse when we lose love, family, or friendship. So much of what was promised to be unconditional and often forever, turned out to have had conditions and forever was much shorter than we imagined. We are left hurt, and disillusioned, promising, never again will we let that happen.
Which is why for me, when, according to Mark, Jesus says to his disciples on Passover, ‘‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many” (Mark 14: 24), or as Matthew records, “Jesus said, ‘for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins’”(Matthew 26:28) I want so desperately to believe, so deeply to trust, but often find it almost impossible to do so. It is way too good to be true. And our experiences have taught us better. Where is the fine print?
God and Jesus are powerful, so why would Jesus die, for those who are less powerful? Why would God be willing to endlessly forgive me, when God’s power grants God the ability to do whatever God wills? Why would God continue to love me, when those who said they would love me forever, and had more to gain, failed to deliver on their promises? Why would someone as unflawed as Jesus be willing to shed his blood for someone as flawed and messy as me? Like those other contracts, this covenant is way too easy. And frustratingly, a search through the fine print does not turn up anything of which to be wary. So just let go, and let God, right? Just trust. Just believe. That is all we are being asked to do.
I try, almost relentlessly. Right now, while I am feeling hurt and scared, I want to do nothing more than place my trust and belief in the words of Jesus and the hands of God. I try, but I fail. I want to fully trust, but I cannot get there yet. It all just seems incomprehensible and out of reach.
I remind myself God it is incomprehensible only because the fullness of God is not completely comprehensible to us. If we are lucky, we might get a glimpse. The experiences that have caused us to lose trust are experiences that came at the hand of humankind. Deeply flawed, cracked and broken humans, they are not of God. And so I persevere. I do not give up trying, I do not give up searching, and needing and wanting God in my life. That is an important step for me. Those other searches were foolhardy, and left nothing but disappointment
No matter how demanding the struggle, I try with all I have to truly believe that God will not disappoint. In the days when I can’t fully summon my trust, I hope God knows how much I want to believe, and hope that for now that will be enough.
Those earlier pieces of mail and the emails that are delivered daily, those that I wish would go away, well they keep coming, and I keep throwing them away.
However, more persistently, in a deeply patient and loving way, God keeps sending out messages, reminders, and hints of God’s love and peace. Unlike the other offers, I do not want those to go away. I need them to keep being delivered, until I can fully trust. God keeps trying and so do I.