"Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will." Mark 14:36
We moved this month and it hit me harder than I thought it would. We only moved a few miles away, WHY was I taking it so hard? I couldn't sleep, I cried a lot, and I saw myself retreating, wanting to withdraw from people. My journal entries from that time are full of sad words. We were experiencing changes in several areas, making big decisions with our children, and leaving a home that had been provided in a very sweet season. I felt like I was going backwards. Interest rates are down, people are BUYING houses; we are in our late 40's, we “should” be buying, not selling! In addition, we had friends going through an ugly divorce, conflict between believers, rioting, death, anger, suffering, suspicion and lack of understanding... these outside realities wrapped me up and I felt crushed beneath their weight. The move was the proverbial straw. Thank God for the straw. I needed the breaking. I needed to see that hope is not ever found in a policy, a political structure, the will of people, nor an earthly home.
I recently read the story of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Our pastor was to be preaching the text in Mark 14 that day and I wanted to prepare. As I read, I was struck by how Jesus was described. He was "greatly distressed and troubled". The text goes on to say that Jesus told His disciples, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch." WHAT?! Jesus, those are some strong, some "dramatic" words. I stopped and felt the impact of what I had just read... "even to death." (pause, let that sink in for a minute)
Jesus told His disciples how He truly felt-what was going on inside.
Jesus asked His disciples to "watch". Um, what? Watch. I have glossed over this word so many times in reading this passage. "Watch as I go through this agony". Our pastor brought this out in his sermon as well. He pointed out that Jesus gave them instructions in what to do while He was in His distress. When we are around people we love who are hurting, our first response is usually to go TO them, to try and comfort them. That is a good thing. I liked that Jesus was kind in His telling them what He wanted. But also, "watch"? Yikes. That is hard. Watch me suffer. Stay. Don't look away or leave.
The word "witness" comes to my mind. It has weight. Witness my emotion. Witness what I am going through. I am not asking you to fix it or even to say or do anything. Bear witness.
Then Jesus, falling to the ground (!), acknowledging His relationship with Abba, Father, acknowledging God's power, "all things are possible for You", asks that the cup might be removed from Him. He knows what is coming. He understands the weight of what lies before Him. (pause and let that sink in)
"YET not what I will, but what YOU will"
Victory. Jesus, asked for what He wanted AND He surrendered. He entrusted Himself, knowing the excruciating pain and suffering that lay before Him, to the will of Abba, Father.
Hebrews 12 recounts this victory with hindsight, "...for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising its shame..."
Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, endured hostility from sinners so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3). He allowed His disciples to witness His "dark" moment, when He was distressed and troubled to the point of death, and we have this vulnerable moment of our Savior to guide and encourage us during our times of suffering and distress.
About a week after we had moved, I was once again unable to sleep. Earlier that week I did some things I had been avoiding- I started walking in the mornings (sunshine and exercise) and I asked some close friends to pray. I shared with them what was going on and the grief I was experiencing. As I sat on my couch that night, in this new place, I reminded myself, once again, that I am a steward of the gifts God gives-not the owner. God is good and can be trusted. His love is steadfast. And I read Psalms 42 and 43. The part that stood out was:
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
God's word, a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, reminded me that HE is my hope. My time in this world is but a breath. What can I do but follow Him? Even if it seems like foolishness to mankind. In that moment, I surrendered. I remembered that my worth is not found in the things I do, the things I own, nor the opinion of others. I am His. He is my Abba, Father, able to do all things, and His will is...period.
May we find a few friends, and build real relationships with them.
May we share our burdens and ask for what we need, not putting our hope in what people can or will do (the disciples fell asleep...3 times, remember that?)
May we bear witness in each other's lives...not shrinking back or inserting ourselves unduly. "How can I love you well?" is a question I am learning to ask.
May we cry out to God- knowing our relationship with Him, His ability, and His character, authority, and wisdom. May we "make our requests known to God".
And may we surrender, entrusting ourselves to Him, the One who loves us most and is most worthy.