Friday, November 4, 2011

A Personal Gethsemane

Mar 14:32-36 NKJV - Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch." He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."

As I have studied the scriptures in an effort to better inform our circumstances, this thought has been very apparent to me: that any man that God desires to use in mighty ways, He first crushes. He takes that man and rips from him everything in this world until there is no hope left in himself. For faith that's going to be trusted is faith that's going to be tested. I distinctly remember praying with Randi a while back that God would make us more like Himself. He has answered that prayer but not in the way in which I had expected.  Too often I find myself wanting to follow Him because I know that in following is found blessing.  Rarely, if ever, have I thought that following Him includes carrying a cross!  I want the streets paved with gold, not the Via Dolorosa painted in blood.  Why should I expect anything less? After all it was Jesus himself who said in Luke 9:23 "And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." It has become ever more apparent to me that it is much easier to wear a cross than it is to bear a cross.  The footsteps of Jesus lead to a garden. Not the Garden of Eden from which came the curse of sweat, but the Garden in Gethsemane in which the pain was so intensely palpable that He sweated blood.  The highway of holiness (Isa 35:8) quite often may lead to A Personal Gethsemane. 

This has been true in many saint's lives throughout the corridor of time. Joseph had his prison, Jonah had his big fish, Abraham had his Mount Moriah, Jacob had his wrestling match, Job had his journey, Paul had his thorn in the flesh, Moses had his desert experience, even Peter, according to tradition, had to watch his wife be crucified as he himself hung upside down on a cross. This has also been true of saints found outside of the scriptures. See the story of David Livingston as told by Leonard Ravenhill:

“In Scotland, nine miles out of Glasgow, there’s a great big house, a national memorial to David Livingstone. In it there is a model that shows the room where he died, where for years and years he prayed. It’s like some of those houses in India that are made of bamboo and leaves woven in. And there he is, kneeling over a bed, if you can call it that—two bamboo rods with some leaves on it—and a candle flickering there. They said every night he would kneel at that bed and you would hear him crying with his hands raised, “God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”

He fought the Portuguese slave traders. He did many, many marvelous things. Why? Because he had a Gethsemane of his own. His precious wife died and he buried her in the jungle. And the baby she bore died. He buried the child at the side of its mother. Another child he had died—he buried that one.

But the grief didn't change his zeal for God. It added fuel to the fire. “The devil’s trying to rob me. The devil’s trying to hinder me.” And he worked with greater zeal. He prayed more than ever he had prayed. They said that night after night his voice would echo through the forest, “Oh God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”

Dear God! all our pastors are concerned about is adding one or two members! Or getting another bus to bring the people in! I say again, there can be no revival without travail.”

When David began his ministry to the "dark" continent of Africa as it was then called, there were perhaps 100 Christians.  Today, there are over 100 Million.

Horatio G. Spafford was a very successful businessman, lawyer, and real estate tycoon in the city of Chicago during the latter half of the 1800's.  He and his wife, Anna, had five young children, four girls and a boy and were fairly well known in the community.  In 1870, however, life began to change.  Horatio and Anna lost their only son to scarlet fever at the tender young age of four.  A year later, the Great Chicago Fire wiped out a majority, if not all, of Horatio's Real Estate holdings.  The toll taken on the family was evident so it was decided that a vacation to England was needed.  Anna and the four girls boarded a steamboat while Horatio was kept behind with some last minute business.  He planned to meet up with them later.  On November 2, 1873 the 'Ville de Havre' collided with another vessel, it took only 12 minutes to sink.  Horatio and Anna lost their four girls that day, Anna was miraculously spared.  As Horatio floated above the resting place of his four daughters on the next vessel out, he penned the words of a hymn that have brought much comfort throughout the years to so many, including myself during this time.  This hymn was entitled "It Is Well With My Soul" and you can find it below as sung by Hillsong.  To think that this man penned the words "When sorrows like sea billows is well with my soul" above the graves of his daughters is beyond comprehension.  From a personal Gethsemane came a profound blessing.

The other morning before the MRI I found myself praying in tears "Father, I know that you are able to have the MRI show that the cancer is completely and miraculously gone and that all of this can be over.  Would you do that? Even if you do not, Lord you are praiseworthy and you are good."  Immediately, after I spoke those words, an overwhelming peace pervaded my heart.  It was as if my Father had said the words "Trust Me."  In that moment I learned Horatio's secret.  From that prayer to wherever this journey takes us, I can say that  "It is well, with my soul."  I can thank my God for this Personal Gethsemane, for there is always a Resurrection to come!


1 comment:

  1. Well if your gethsemane is like Jesus' there is a ressurection after the suffering. That is great news!