I love gardens. I enjoy spending time in beautiful gardens. I’ve often wondered what the Garden of Gethsemane looked like. Jesus spent one hour there before being arrested. Were there pretty annuals and perennials? Any flowering trees? I wonder if he had a bench nearby to sit if he was tired?
During the hour Jesus spent in the garden, he wrestled with God. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:41) Jesus then went to find his disciples asleep. Could they not keep watch and pray for one hour to ward off temptation? He left them again and cried out to his Father a second time. His disciples gave a repeat performance. Jesus gave it one more shot. Third times a charm, right? He cried out to his Papa one last time. He prayed with such strength that he was sweating blood yet his disciples continued to sleep. The hour was near and Jesus realized that it was time. “Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is Betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:45-46)
Growing up I thought of Jesus as the main character in a really big story. I loved to look at the Stations of the Cross that lined the walls of our church. Never would I have inserted myself into that story. After all, it happened so long ago – you know, in the really olden days. It was not until I was in my early 20’s that the life of Christ became personal for me. Yet, I could still not truly insert myself into the events that took place in the Gospels. Not until yesterday, that is. As I prepared to head to church, it hit me. I’m in the garden with Jesus, pleading with my Father to take the cup away from me if it be His will. My recent weight struggles coupled with some other big things going on (or so they seem big in our earthly understanding of life) I feel like I’m laying prostrate in that garden, pleading for my life. Actually, I think I’ve made many visits to the garden over the years. While I did not sweat, I have cried many tears and pleaded with my Father to “take my cup.”
As I read three different accounts of Jesus’ visit to the garden this morning, I began to look differently at the disciples. While Jesus was the lead in that scene, his disciples played a key role as well. They had a big job to do and they slept! Oh, how it hit me that I’ve been sleeping for so many years. Jesus asked them to keep watch with him for one hour. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) I do love to sleep, but it’s time for me to stay awake and keep watch so as to not fall into temptation. It made me think about my quiet time in the mornings that have been filled with heavy eyes, distractions, FB… must I go on? Am I faithfully keeping watch and praying so as to not fall into temptation?
As I prayed earlier, I asked God to show me both roles in the garden. To make them personal for me. I often pray out loud (so as to not be distracted in my head) and today, very earnestly prayed the words, “Not your will, but mine be done!” I instantly caught myself and laughed out loud. Oh, sorry Lord, I meant Your will, not mine! Then it dawned on me…while I’ve been outwardly praying for His will in my life, what I’ve been living is my will. I put it out there to God and ask for His…. but then I gather it all up and carry mine. I want to be thin. I want to be pleasing to my husband. I want to be normal. God has a purpose for my life and that is to be healthy. I am not quite sure what that looks like, but I’ve come to realize that daily I need to drink the cup and die to my old ways. I also need to stay awake and keep watch to ward off temptation. I can’t ask for those things and then lay the cup aside and sleep.
My little Freudian slip while praying this morning was another turn in the road for me. I wish these were easy right hand turns. If you’ve ever driven with me, you know that I hate to turn left on a busy road. I think these are all left hand turns!