Monday, July 28, 2008

Embracing Gethsemane

Matt 26:36-39 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

I often pray in the mornings on my commute to work. I started this particular day off with a T-G-I-T(hursday) because I get every other Friday off – which means it is really the “Friday” of my work week. As I was approaching the gate to enter the plant I heard one word, “
Gethsemane.” Bitter sorrow for my sins began to well up within me such that I was almost too overcome with emotion to enter the plant. I slowed my pace toward the building to allow tears and emotion to subside. I’m such a woman sometimes.

I am blessed/cursed with hyper-sensitivity - my whole family is. It has taken me almost 5 decades to understand that and walk in it in a mature way. I’m still not completely there yet, but I know he wired me this way for a reason which I am sure is not intended for an inward focus but an outward empathy. It is disconcerting to me that grace is not a strong suit of mine; so rarely in my vocabulary I had to look up its spelling. Grace. It has a sweet sound. I’m pretty sure it has a sweet taste too.

As I continued toward the building I noticed a dove drinking from a puddle. The Lord has been putting dove in my path lately to remind me of His abiding presence. I know they are native to Texas and we have an abundance of them, but every time I see one I sense He is near. I need Him here. As I walked past this dove it seemed content with my close proximity and didn’t fly away. I know He is with me to stay. I suddenly felt Him wrap His arms around me. I thought for a moment, “Maybe I should leave my sunglasses on as I walk through the plant.”

2 Tim 1:4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.

Again I heard Him whisper in my spirit “Gethsemane. Go to Gethsemane.” My mind immediately went to Jesus weeping bitterly in the garden. He was frustrated with his disciples slumbering flesh and troubled about his impending torture and death. His faithful prayer of “Father, not my will but Yours…” rings throughout the annals of Christendom, and haunts us still today. Not my flesh but your purpose. Not my appetite but your bread of life. Not the wine of drunkenness, but the blood of the Lamb. Not me! THEE! I wanted to turn around and go home where I could weep openly because of my sin, my flesh, my will, which is often not His.

That word “Gethsemane” means “oil press.” Taken in its fullness back to the root word (sort of an “exegenesis”:) it translates to something really close to this: “the place where the richness of aromatic oil is pressed out so it can grow, enter, be set in place, come, bring, and/or accompany.” As Jesus wrestled with death and sin that he had never known, but was about to know in it’s fullest vilest form, the pressure of that inevitability brought forth (pressed) blood sweated through his pores. The olive was squeezed and the richness of His innermost being manifested in the selfless resignation of surrender. Three times he found his way to that place of “not my will but yours.” I’ve been in that place where I have to keep going surrendering something back to the Father – namely my will. I am there again.

I am in a place of repentance and surrender and it sucks, and…it is amazing. I can smell the scent of a garden where the night’s dew has fallen, and where crickets chirp, and where their song is interrupted only by the weeping of a broken spirit. The sound of snoring flesh tries to drown out the cry of my heart and the profession of my faith. I am troubled that I haven’t been here more often seeking the Father’s will and purpose in a proactive intentional way. An angry mob of fleshly minions led by selfish pride and a weak will seek to arrest my redemption. I confess I have no part with them. I’m a citizen of a different Kingdom where the oil of gladness and the anointing of the Holy Spirit reigns supreme; a place where His will becomes my pursuit.

What is His will? Simple – That I love Him first and that I love others like I do myself (Matt 22:37-40). Simple – that no one perish but all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). Simple – that I be conformed into His image and likeness (Rom 12:2). Simple – That I listen and obey (John 10:-16). Simple – Give thanks in all circumstances. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Impossible when all I hear is me and not Him. He walked with us in the Garden of Eden. He walked FOR us in the Garden of Gethsemane. Meet Him there to walk with Him again. It is there He showed, and shows us now, how to do all the “simple” stuff I just mentioned.

Now if you will excuse me I have some weeping to do to cleanse the soul. I have to make a deposit where my Father awaits with his trusty little bottle to catch my tears.

1 Pet 4:1-2 “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

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