He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:41-44 NIV
This is not only my favorite part of the Easter story, but quite possibly my favorite moment in the entire Bible. We know Jesus is God in human form, but this is his most human moment. I imagine the prayer/conversation going something like this (paraphrasing, of course): “So, God/father, I know I have to be crucified and all, but I was just wondering if there might be a way to get around that whole part of this? Its going to suck pretty badly, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask if there was any other way to do this? I mean, at the end of the day, its your will, not mine. Just wanted to check.”
Who of us would not feel like that with such a task at hand? Overwhelmed, scared, full of dread. And yet, who of us would have the strength to surrender to God’s will with such an impending fate? I love that God sent an angel to strengthen him. It shows the ability of God to strengthen us in times of desperate struggle. For us, the angels may be literal or figurative, referring to people that He sends. Either way, He strengthens us. He sends help. He listens to our anguish. Jesus knew the reason he came. He knew this event was unavoidable and would feel unbearable, and yet he asked God for a way out. And yet, he ultimately surrendered to God’s will. He knew his mission and the purpose, and knowing how it would feel, he ultimately agreed to it… For us.
He knew the purpose it would serve was too great.
How many times have I begged God for a way out?
How many times have I pleaded for another way?
And did he listen? Always.
And did he strengthen me to get me through? Absolutely.
And did my anguish end up serving some greater purpose, either for myself or others? Every. Single. Time.
Did my ultimate surrender to God’s will help me accept the task at hand? You bet.
God is faithful when our fears distract us. God is present in our struggle. He will give us the strength to get through and accomplish great things. He is there. He is there because He knows our anguish. He has felt it for himself. He knows our desperation and fear. He’s been there. Even when we feel like He has forsaken us, still, He remains at our side.
I just heard a sermon about risking failure and stepping out in faith. (So much easier said than done, but definitely pays off in the end.) I’ve gotten one clear message from God about my pursuit of seminary, and it isn’t the best news possible. The single recurring message I’ve gotten is that I might not walk away from this with a degree.
Now, having once unsuccessfully attempted grad school, this isn’t the kind of thing I want to hear, exactly. But I do know one thing for sure, and that is that God has better things in store for us than we can even imagine. I would give anything to walk away from this endeavor with a Master’s degree, well, almost anything.
For whatever reason, be it selfish, or egotistical, or just simply wanting to have faith in myself and my ability again, I want that degree. I’d be lying if I said that the prospect of not ending up with one isn’t disappointing; but I also realize that I’m not in this process to to restore my faith in myself, I’m in it to grow in my faith in God.
My ultimate goal in this process is to grow closer to God/know God more intimately; to become like a seed planted on good soil; to exemplify the kind of life that a follower of Christ lives; to serve God, and to bring glory to God.
I’m just a baby in my faith. I’m coming up on 3 years since I gave my life to Christ. A lot of people know Christ their whole lives. I do believe I have something to offer in service to God, a new perspective, some definite talents.
At the end of the day, if I reflect honestly, I do believe that God isn’t necessarily saying that I definitely will not end up with the degree I want. I believe God is saying that this shouldn’t be my goal, or my focus. I do want so much more than a degree from this process. A degree needs to be a take it or leave it kind of deal. If I get one, great! If I don’t, I will walk away with knowledge and wisdom that are so much more valuable than a framed piece of paper on my wall. That alone needs to be enough.
Isn’t that true in so many situations? Our number one goal should be to seek God wholly, not to find satisfaction in things of this world.
Still, letting go of that dream will be tough. I resolve to do it, though. I cannot give myself fully to this process if I am in any way putting my focus and my hope in something as ultimately meaningless as a degree.
If you can, please pray for me in this process of letting go of my ideas of success; and starting on the road toward reaching the potential that God has set for me in this journey. Thanks a million!
Driving home from a meeting tonight, I listened to my favorite group. They’re called All Sons & Daughters. This song came on: (close your eyes and listen)
This song brings me to tears.
Part of it is the way the describe the heart ache of watching Jesus on the cross, and the way the promise of His return is the only thing that kept them holding on. I totally understand this. It automatically sends me to a place where I think about that sacrifice that He made for me. For me! How totally absurd is that? I’m not even a smudge on the pages of history. I’m just one of billions of people walking this planet. But wow, He had me in mind while making that sacrifice. He wanted to set ME free. Of course, He wanted to set all of us free, but we weren’t just faces in a crowd to Him. We weren’t just another number among the billions. He had each of us in mind on that day. And there was this pain. Can you imagine what it was like to watch Him die? How it would make your heart ache to see someone you love go through that? But they held on, believing He would return. And here I am today, holding on with the same promise in mind. I never used to understand why people would look forward to the return of Christ, but I get it now. I would be so happy to get to be near Him.
By the time the song is over, I’m so aware of that sacrifice and what it meant for me. I am so humbled by Him making the choice to make such a sacrifice to set me free. I know that everything I have, I have because of God. All of it. All I want is to be the best person I can be, for God. I can never be worthy of what He did for me, but I want to be as close as I can possibly be. I want nothing more than to be a good person for the sake of trying with everything I have in me to repay this debt. I know I cannot repay, and He wouldn’t even want me to. He didn’t do it with our compensation in mind. He did it knowing that our freedom was the reward. Can you imagine how joyous it is to see someone you love set free from the bondage of this dark world?
I give you all the glory, God. I can never repay You, but I pray you see my heart and know how grateful I am to my very core. I’m nothing without You. Everything I have, I have because of You. Everything I have accomplished, is because of You alone. I want nothing more than to know You more and live a life that gives You glory. I want nothing more than to serve You. I am forever indebted to You, and forever grateful for You. I love You with everything I have, every fiber of my being. I am Yours.
I have this ache within me, knowing that I can never repay God for all that God has done for me. What a humbling feeling.