Monthly Archives: April 2017

In The Garden

DSC_0776By Judy Villanueva

And He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.  And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”  (Mark 14:34-36)

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
 He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
 And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, 
Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
 to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Not too long ago I faced an excruciating trial.  It was an ordeal I did not want to go through but I saw it coming at me like a freight train! I prayed and asked all my friends to pray that this trial would fall apart and that I would be relieved from having to walk through it.  One of my friends, after hearing my request, said, “I’m going to pray for God’s will.”  To which I replied, “Don’t you dare!  I don’t want to do this!”  I really didn’t.  To say “Your will, not mine” is best said on one’s face because there, at least, the body is in a submitted posture even if the heart is not.  To be honest, I prayed against having to bear this cross and then, kicked and squirmed all the way through it — cuz I did have to go all the way through it.

It’s terrifying and beautiful to enter the garden and watch Jesus grieved to the point of death.  I’ve touched the edges of this kind of grief but many reading this have likely entered the heart of it.  It is when deep sorrow and suffering merge and literally push us downward with a crushing weight.  Each year during lent, I return to Gethsemane and quietly watch what happened there amidst the olive trees.

I tend to put the Garden away after Easter, but once a year I crawl over next to Jesus with my face to ground and listen closely.

There I hear his labored breath, his sweat that falls like blood to the ground.  There, I hear his desperate pleas to be relieved of the cup that awaits him.  Can you hear him with his mouth pressed against the dirt? “Abba Father! Is there any other way?”  That’s when I look over because I know what he will say next and I want to see his face when he says it.

“Yet, not my will, but Yours.”

It stuns me every time!  The beauty of it breaks me.  Not just His heart that trusted the Father in His darkest night, but the love that beat within Him for me!  For you!  I love the honesty in the garden.  It helps me, somehow, to witness the part of Jesus that was human, like me.  It instructs me on what to do and where to go when I am troubled, full of fear or weighted down with worry.  I find, as I lay with my face in the dirt next to Jesus, that I want to reach over and offer Him a consolation from the 21st century.  I want to whisper back to Him, “Thank you! For not backing away from being crushed, scourged, and pierced for my transgressions — for laying it all down, for trusting the Father, for saying, ‘Not my will, but Yours.’ Thank you!”

“Thank you, Jesus, for the garden!  You showed me what it is to surrender all the way.  Your will, not mine.  Help me to fall with you to a life that yields to your will and trusts you in suffering places.  Amen.”

What about you?

 How does looking at Jesus face down on the ground make you feel?

Can you touch His desperation?

Are you in a garden, a time of waiting or suffering?

What might a day be like of complete surrender to God?  “Your will, not mine.”

Take a moment to look and listen to Jesus in the garden! He shouted a Word so loud and clear that it travels across nations and through time. “I love you! Come to Me! I’ve made a way.”

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