There is a huge difference between acceptance and giving in. Giving in takes you to a place of inaction and paralysis. Acceptance takes you to a place of choice…it is a place you consciously journey towards.
In Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t give in. He came to that place of acceptance. He made that choice to lay aside his majesty and drink from the cup. He had to do that. He had to go into the place of pain and brokenness so that it too might be transformed and redeemed.
It is in that place of acceptance that the things that hold us back are robbed of their power and hold over us. It allows us to no longer pour out all our energy on the things that we cannot change, the things that at the end of the day no longer concern us. It is in that place where the things that clamoured for our energy and attention are silenced.
It is in that place where we can say “Lord, may your will be done. May your Kingdom come.” It is in that place that we begin at last to listen. It is in that place where, free from distractions, we might listen to God. Job came to that place too. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
There are truths that help us to come that place of acceptance and these truths are the ones we need to tell ourselves again and again until they become written on the tablet of our hearts.
Three of these truths are:
- We are precious in God’s sight
Nouwen said we must believe in the yes that comes back when we ask of God “Do you love me?” We are created in God’s image and likeness and destined for adoption as his children; we are chosen by God. We find our dignity, our esteem and our humanity in Him. We must choose the yes of God’s love even when we do not experience it because his love endures forever; we need to know that whatever we come through in life, Jesus’ blood covers even that…His grace is sufficient. It has to be sufficient because otherwise Jesus’ death was for naught. It is an answer that does not lie in rehashing old events, or in guilt or shame – those are symptoms of leaving the place of acceptance. All of those make us dissipate our self and leave the rock on which our house is built. It’s not simply a case of positive thinking and thinking the right thoughts, important as they may be…it comes down to belief…do we believe it when we are told that God loves us? Do we hear Jesus when he says “walk with me”? Do we believe it when we are told to cast our cares upon the Lord for he will sustain us? Do we believe that we are precious in God’s sight?
- We are not alone
In coming to that place of acceptance, we need to remind ourselves that nothing can separate us from the love of God. So we need to try and come to that place of knowing – that deep inner knowing – that actually we are not alone. God is with us, that ever present help in a time of trouble. Our Wonderful Counsellor and Prince of Peace. If we have the courage to keep returning to the foot of the cross and look around us we will find that we are not alone. We always need to keep coming back to the foot of the cross. And should we ever have the courage to really look carefully, we will see that the cross is empty and the risen Christ is right beside us, journeying with us.
Sometimes we may feel like God is far off or that God doesn’t understand, and yet when the prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah, of Christ our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer we are told:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
When Jesus was resurrected and appeared before his disciples he was known by his wounds; he still bears them and he bears them for you and I. He knows when we sit and when we rise; He perceives our thoughts from afar. He discerns our going out and our lying down; He is familiar with all our ways. Before a word is on our tongue He knows it completely. God understands…he really understands.