One of my favorite ways to spend sixty minutes is browsing a store with my sister. Target works well.
Mindy and I leave our boys to play board games galore with Grandma and Grandpa. We grab a hot drink at Starbucks and peruse aisles we normally steer clear of when kids trail behind or we’re in a hurry — candles, clothes, jewelry, makeup.
This particular evening we grabbed a hot peppermint tea (for me) and a decaf coffee (for her). Our shopping excursion was pure leisure; sunglasses for my younger son and black flip-flops for my older were the only items on my blissfully short list.
While we meandered purses, jewelry, and sunglasses, my sister reached into the cart for a sip of her decaf Americano sweetened with sugar-free syrup of some-kind-or-another. Instead she grabbed my identical cup, a steaming peppermint tea sweetened with a-little-too-much agave.
I whipped around to my sister leaned over the cart, her lean cheeks rounded with peppermint tea. A smile broke my face, then a giggle.
“Grabbed the wrong drink?” I asked the obvious.
She answered with a wild-eyed look, her cheeks still puffed with hot liquid, and it hit me like a shopping cart against my Achilles.
She can’t drink it. My tea was sweetened with sugar.
“You can’t just swallow it?” I tried. “Just one quick gulp?”
She shook her head decisively. We were fifty yards from the ladies’ room. How would she rid herself of that mouthful of unwanted liquid in a sea of scarves?
Let me explain a little about my older sister.
The past two and a half years brought about a marked change in Mindy’s life — she joined a support group for food addiction and over a period of many months, lost an astounding 160 pounds.
Let me type that out and make it bold and all that font jazz.
One hundred and sixty pounds. (!!!!!)
To say I’m proud of her and grateful for her improved health and energy is a vast understatement.
Part of her strict weight loss regime was eliminating all sugar from her diet. The only sugar Mindy consumes comes from plain yogurt and fruit; nothing else is allowed in her daily food intake, and I’m in awe of her dedication and self-control.
But during that peaceful evening in Target, browsing chunky necklaces and clearance wallets, Mindy reached for the wrong cup, almost swallowing a mouthful of sweetener that was a big No-No.
Just in time, she located an empty garbage can, ridding herself of the sugared-up drink she couldn’t allow in her body. We giggled our way out of jewelry into the clearance clothing aisle, but the moment stayed with me.
The wrong cup.
The cup Jesus grasped during the twilight of His thirty-three years on Earth was boiling with rancid liquid. My sin swirled inside. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus asked His Father to take that cup from Him. But it was a cup only He could take, for us, to eliminate toxic sin from mankind.
Only He could do this thing. This Cross.
And He did.
“And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.'” (Mark 14:33-36).
Charles Spurgeon said that, “the most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the gospel.”
May we never forget that Jesus took a cup we couldn’t, in our place, handing back instead a trenta-sized offering of grace and mercy filled with living water.