Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? I know I’m not the only one because the disciples did it in today’s reading. I have every good intention of praying through the praises, concerns, joys, requests, and pleas for forgiveness. I’m sure the disciples did, too.
Jesus told the disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” They just didn’t understand. It’s hard to put ourselves in their shoes, much less understand the distress that had overtaken Jesus. What we do see is that Jesus’ response to his anguish was to pray. We can probably think of a time when we were faced with doing something we dreaded. Like in speech class, getting up in front of the class knowing your knees were going to knock and that words would be stumbled over. But Jesus’ dread was so much more than this. So much more.
One of my favorite memories is performing the song, “In the Garden” by Michael Card, with my son, Zack playing cello. It was a special presentation we did during our Maundy Thursday services. Listen to the powerful words and watch the striking images, HERE. I can’t listen to that song without being overcome with emotion. My Lord Jesus suffered so much for me. His time in the garden was only the beginning.
Jesus’ humanity was evident that night. Yet his devotion to his Father was even greater. What do you feel when you hear these words? “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Jesus knew what he was supposed to do. That didn’t make it any easier. Even in the final moments he is wanting to make sure. Is there another way?
There was no other way. God had been orchestrating this moment for a long time. Jesus was never alone. Jesus may have felt abandoned by his disciples, but he was never alone. His Father was closer than ever. The angels were working over time. Jesus was being held. What he was about to do was unfathomable. Yet, he was God. He loved us so much. How can you not be moved?
Jesus was not facing this alone. We can take comfort in that ourselves. When we are seeking the Father’s will for our lives, we will never be alone to fend for ourselves. Our assignment may not be as intense as Jesus’ was, but it will have kingdom consequences. God needs each one of us for his purposes on earth.
If you’re still not sure what God has called you to do, ask him. Don’t just rush on to get to the next task today, really wrestle with this. Even if you think you know, that’s great. You are still alive, so perhaps God isn’t through with you yet. We are never too old or too young to be used by God.
Let’s pray. Lord, I feel responsible for your pain and it hurts me. Yet at the same time I am so thankful for your sacrifice. The distress and anguish you endured for me was not in vain. I love you and adore you. Give me clarity to know exactly what you want me to do today and everyday. Cleanse my heart from thoughts of inadequacy or doubt. I want to be living in your will. Use me to further your kingdom and show me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.