By Rebecca Birt, Art by Danielle Mossberg
WITH. A word with few letters, and yet within those four letters I find the crux of my entire human existence. It is what my soul longs for most. It’s not money, or health or success. At times, I can try to convince myself the word holds nothing but emptiness and ignored promises. However, the truth of my need for this word is woven through my God-breathed DNA.
There are so many times I want to keep this word at a distance. Like many things we know we need, we often run the opposite direction. Belittle them. Trivialize them. Build a wall, draw another line.
I fight to hold onto this stubbornness, self-sufficiency and indifference more than I care to admit. These charades we all play all day, nearly every day have nearly convinced me that my world is only how I define it. I am the one who controls what is allowed in and only I determine what is allowed out.
I cannot deny the loving, surrendered pleas echoing from a garden in Gethsemane, from a man who will forever be the answer to my own secret plea for WITH. I see where He is, and what awaits Him. Hours from now, everything will change. EVERYTHING. And yet, I stand on the edge among the sleeping disciples, fighting back tears, and I want to tell him no. The cost is too much. I can do this alone.
Unable to bear the anguish, I turn to go, but then I hear His words and His prayer stops me where I stand.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “ John 17:20-23.
Suddenly, I realize there is too much at stake to hold Jesus’ prayer at a distance. It gives me chills to think that on that day, in that moment, he was praying for us, you and me, right now, yesterday and tomorrow. All of the things he could have prayed about, he chose this. Doesn’t that mean something? Doesn’t that mean He knew just how hard it was going to be? How much was at stake?
It’s easy to want to frame WITH in singular or selfish context and make it about me. But I now see that WITH is God’s way of drawing this world to Him. This prayer, this beautiful prayer, is a moment of a Son WITH His Father and within this communion, He laid out His entire plan…and it involves us.
Yes, my friends, WITH does come with a cost. It is one He gladly paid, with our names on His lips. And because of that, we are invited into this holy word of WITH. To be WITH Him and WITH each other. Don’t you see how God uses this word of WITH to change the world? Enter in. Leave your self-dependency at the door and reveal the vulnerability you have fought so hard to hide. Let’s gift it to each other and likewise, let us receive each other in humility and grace.
Together, let us watch to see what happens.
WITH: Women's Weekend: Join us October 20th-22nd for a weekend getaway with speaker Michelle Jones, worship by various artists led by Hannah Glavor and breakout sessions led by Gena Siegel and others from our community. Register at idcpdx.com/with.