18 April 2014

in the garden

It seems fitting that this Good Friday morning is rainy and dark and cold. It fits the mood of this dark day. I generally want to rush past the horrors of Holy Week and get to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday. My faith hinges on the fact that He rose victorious from the grave. I know without his death, the victory would be lacking

I read about Jesus' time in the garden by way of my handy Bible-app and a lent reading plan. When I read the familiar verses, they seemed heavier than before. When Jesus said, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with me." I couldn't comprehend Jesus, being so grieved that he said it was to the point of death. That is some heavy grief. I wondered immediately if Jesus was grieving because of His thoughts for us, or if He was grieving for what He knew His disciples would see + experience over the coming days, or was He grieving because of what He was going to face Himself? I'm not sure that you can pinpoint exactly what He was grieving. But isn't that the way of grief? Its messy, its edges bleed over into every part. It can't be neatly compartmentalized, it spills onto sunny days just as easily as it floods the dark night.

And to think Jesus felt this heavy grief as He prepared to do the very job His entire life was purposed for. He went on to ask "My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as you will." Jesus, in His darkest moments, asked for a way out. In His deep grief, He gave us - His followers - this gift. If even Jesus, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Perfect Lamb, asked God, if possible can we do something else here? He validates our desire for another way, and then He shows us how to accept the hard thing, "yet not as I will, but as you will." 

This whole garden scene just rattles my soul. He asked His friends to pray and they fell asleep. He asked God three times to take this cup from Him. He kept praying in the dark alone. He kept asking God for another way in the shadows. And somehow in the dark, lonely prayers, He accepted that it wasn't going to change. And He woke His friends and said, "behold, the hour is at hand." 

My Savior, my very-human-but-also-God-Savior, found courage through honest prayer. He showed His grief to His closest friends, and laid it out before God in prayer. His circumstances did not change, and yet, He was strengthened to face the task at hand.

So I slow down today to ponder those who grieve. I settle here before the celebration of His resurrection and I sense the heaviness of a world in the darkness. I want to put myself in the garden alongside the ones carrying the sorrow. I somehow want to muster more alertness than the disciples but also know I cannot remove the weight of grief from the one who carries it. I can only be present to bear witness.

It is heavy and yet holy. May we gently stand with our friends and family who grieve. May we not rush them through the depths, nor leave them in the darkness alone. If all we can offer is our presence in the shadows, let's do that. Let's not offer empty words, let's be near as they pour out their deeply grieved hearts - to the point of death. Let us honor their prayers that request another way.

Sunday is coming. But the darkness is heavy today.  I think its important to acknowledge it rather than rush past it.

* all verses referenced are from Matthew 26:36-46 NASB

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