Yesterday, I shared this brief reflection about the Garden of Gethsemane story. First, the story:
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.” 37 When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. 38 Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” 39 Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”
40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? 41 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 42 A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want.”
43 Again he came and found them sleeping. Their eyes were heavy with sleep. 44 But he left them and again went and prayed the same words for the third time. 45 Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? Look, the time has come for the Human One[e] to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up. Let’s go. Look, here comes my betrayer.”
What is the state of your soul these days? Hard question isn’t it? It’s much easier to reflect on our external world—I’m doing well at work; here is a list of my successes and failures. School is almost over, my grades are good or I could be doing better in my classes. My relationships are in good order; some struggles, yes, but overall I’m doing well.
It’s much easier to reflect on the externals.
But, the question is this: What is the state of your soul?
The late Dallas Willard was once asked how to pinpoint where we are on our spiritual journey and what might be an appropriate next step. He pondered for a moment and then said, “Maybe you need to ask, ‘What’s bothering you?’”
What’s bothering you? What bothers you enough to incite action? What bothers you so much it paralyzes? What’s bothering you?
Back to the Garden of Gethsemane. This transient moment in time is one of the most penetrating insights into Jesus’ soul. “I’m very sad,” he says. “It’s as if I’m dying.” What’s bothering him? He’s trapped in that enveloping chasm between what he knows is ahead and what he wants to avoid, what he knows is right and what he wants to do.
Have you ever been there? Caught between what you know is right and what you really want to do instead, what you know is ahead and what you would rather avoid. If we are honest, we most often choose the path of least resistance; the pathway that avoids our pain, our loneliness, our isolation.
In this gripping story of self-revelation, Jesus soul is laid bare. Take this cup from me. Remove this suffering. Take this sadness. Remove this loneliness. Though surrounded by his disciples, Jesus was utterly alone, alone with his wrenching inner struggle.
As I read this story over and over this past week, I couldn’t help but be grateful. Grateful for a God who knows struggle and loneliness and loss. Grateful for a God whose heart is opened to the pain and confusion we all face when trying to discern what it right. Grateful for a God who doesn’t stand over, but walks with.
It’s Monday. What is the state of your soul? What’s bothering you? How can we make this journey together this Holy Week? Peace. Kai