Shortest Verse in the Bible, Sometimes Used for Swearing
I find when we re-tell the stories of the Bible, we like to whitewash the "negative" human emotions such as anger, jealousy, fear, and grief. It's like only the bad characters, such as Herod, are allowed to feel them.
Yet, when we talk about Jesus's feelings, we quickly sanction the negative feelings with theologically correct terms--"righteous anger", "crying with empathy","divinely overcoming temptation". Why aren't we allowing ourselves to connect to Jesus with where it really hurts and where it gets really ugly? Are we only "acceptable" to him if we're happy, or publicly pretending to be?
Right now, as I choose to wait for my personal sword of Damocles to continue to inch forward to my jugular, I remember a story I wrote many years ago--a letter from Jesus grieving to a young friend during his long night in Gethsemane. It was inspired one night as I was watching some of my young charges in a sleepover when I was a children's group leader. It was beautiful to watch those soft faces, and listen to their gentle breathing, when only hours before the place was teeming with the writhing, screaming energy of their sugar rush...
It’s now the middle of the night, and the whole world looks so different beneath its blanket of darkness. Yes, Theophile, sometimes I feel a little afraid in the dark, too.
My friends are just a little bit away from me, and they’re sleeping. It feels strange to look at the face of someone you love who’s fast asleep, doesn’t it? I know their faces so well, every expression, every look that ties me to them. Yet in the middle of the night, their faces are blank, and they’re far away where I can’t reach them. I feel so lonely when I see that, and I can’t wait until morning when we can be close again.
But you know, Theophile, knowing that morning is just around the bend doesn’t make the night seem any shorter. And that’s OK, because you know what? Nights can be special in their own way. They can be times to sing a rousing song that echoes into forever. They can be times of being so quiet, that you aren’t sure if you want to smile bravely or cry. You feel you’re the only one awake who’s talking to God, and He’s the only one who’ll keep awake for you.
Tonight is a night to be quiet. God’s the only one awake, Him and me. And, of course, my letter to you.
Theophile, I’m sad.
Tomorrow, I’m going to die.
I don’t want to die. I know it’s going to hurt.
I told it to God. I cried, you know, with those really wet tears that run down your neck. I said, “Dad? Dad! Oh Daddy, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go away like this. I know it’s going to hurt, and it hurts already just knowing it’s going to happen. Is this really what You want? Really and truly?”
So we’ve been talking about it for hours. I know that for me, dying is going to be like the night. Except, I will be the one that will have to bring the rousing song all by myself. I will have to go, because it hurts me more to think of people I love going into the night with no one who’ll keep awake for them. I will have to go, because I want us all to have a morning after together.
And believe me, Theophile, there will be a morning after. My face won’t look asleep then!