For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
As John’s gospel draws closer to the crucifixion of Jesus, there’s a certain heaviness that settles in. We witness the intimacy of the relationship between Jesus and his Father. Jesus reveals the character of God through his presence on earth and now that character will continue to live through his disciples and Christ followers. For me, as I read today’s scripture it feels like the beginning of goodbye. As Jesus prays for his disciples and then for all believers I find myself thinking, “no, not yet, I’m not ready to be without you!” There is so much comfort and peace in the knowledge that we belong to God and that he is always with us. But there is also a requirement of surrender that comes with that promise. My husband and I have experienced that surrender on two occasions. Two of our children battle chronic illness. Our son became very ill as an infant. The days in the hospital became weeks and the answers more elusive. Eventually, it became clear that we would take this baby home without the healing we had prayed for. Truthfully, I was angry. I couldn’t understand why God would heal other babies but not mine. I asked Him over and over to reveal what I needed to do to be a better Christian so that he would heal my son. The answer never came. As time went on, I watched friends and family members give birth to healthy babies and I envied their freedom. Every part of my life was colored by the realities of having a sick child.
On one particularly difficult day in the hospital, our son required a procedure to place central line into his heart for nutrition. They took my baby from me and promised to be back soon with the new line in place. When they brought him back, everything had changed. He was lying still, eyes closed inside a clear plastic warming box. All we could do was look at him through the lid. We could not reach in, could not touch him we simply could not have him in that moment. We were told that he was having difficulty bringing his body temperature back up to normal and therefore he needed to stay in the box. We were told that his body was very weak going in to the procedure and that now we’d have to wait and see how he responded over the next several hours. I remember every detail of that night. I remember sinking into the corner of his room, face to the wall as I slid down to the ground. There was no more reasoning, no more bargaining, no more controlling the situation. I surrendered. For the first time in my life I had to livethe truth that our children are not ours, they belong to our Heavenly Father.
“All mine are yours and yours are mine….“ John 17:10
In John 17 we watch and listen to Jesus making that same kind of surrender. He knows this is the beginning of the end for his earthly life with his disciples. There is a sadness and a heaviness as he acknowledges the tremendous battleground he leaves on earth. Jesus’ greatest desire for his disciples is that they will become one. He wanted them to be unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. I view this chapter of John as Jesus’ last love letter to us. He has completed his mission on earth and God glorifies him. Now we are left to live in His truth until he returns. Jesus gave me one son, and today Ollie is a nearly 8 year old miracle. When I surrendered him to God on that February night in 2011, he was given back to me several hours later, tiny baby fists pounding on the lid of his isolette. I said goodbye to the idea that he belongs to me and accepted Christ and the plans he has for our life. If there’s something you can surrender this week, I hope you’ll take the time to be in prayer and conversation with Jesus. I wish you joy and most of all hope in this season of Advent!