Before I started typing today’s post I hopped online and searched through the 1,654 blogs I’ve written over the same number of days. I could’ve swore I’d written about this topic at least a dozen times so imagine my shock at the number of blogs including the name “Gethsemane” totaling only two. They include the following (if you’re interested you can click on the link and it should open up in a new page for you):
- Day 180 – Thankful for the Story of Jesus Praying In Gethsemane
- Day 199 – Thankful for the Rawness of Being Tired
That just didn’t seem right to me so I dug a little deeper. When I changed the search I found the following included “Jesus” and “Garden”:
- Day 252 – Thankful for Prayers, Love, & Support From Friends and Family
- Day 255 – Thankful for Letting Go of the Wheel
- There were two others from the past few weeks, but I’ll skip them due to their recency
When I went back to read these four I was struck by how clearly I remember writing each of these four posts. Amongst all of the posts I’ve written two of them are easily in my personal Top 10 favorites.
I remember writing the post about Jesus praying in Gethsemane (Day 180 above) while laying in bed at Dad’s house on Good Friday of 2016. When you check out the date of the post you’ll see it was the first one I wrote that wasn’t posted until just after midnight. I’d milked out as much time as I possibly could with Dad before he went to bed and then wrote it. I remember thinking about whether I should take the time to write what I really felt I should or if I should rush through it to meet my self-imposed deadline. In looking back I am thinking it was a beautiful little nudge and an Easter egg from the Big Dude Upstairs. There was an opportunity for me to choose between my will (getting it written on time) and His will (writing what needed to be written). I am also so thankful for not rushing the night with Dad in order to accomplish the task. Little did I know that he would be gone just over a year later. Side note, I still remember just how much Dad loved that post. It still fills my heart just thinking about that.
Just the sight of five words from my post on Day 255 caused my eyes to immediately water and my lip to tremble. “Letting Go of the Wheel.” That was both one of the most difficult and most beautiful days of my life to date. It was on that date that The Big Dude Upstairs decided to help me truly learn one of the lessons taught in the story of Jesus in Gethsemane. From Matthew 26:39 – … he fell with his face on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” This was the day when I learned acceptance. On that date I knew there was nothing I could do to help Dad live. I couldn’t fix anything or change anything. All I could do was accept and choose how to live with whatever The Big Dude decided.
So what am I truly thankful for today? That was a whole lot about past blog posts, wasn’t it? Let me bring back one more of my favorite old posts as it pulls the full story together.
The story itself is a Christmas based story. I wrote my post the day after Christmas. Why on Earth would I include a Christmas story when talking about Jesus praying in the garden??? Seems a little crazy, doesn’t it? What I realized today was this was the last piece I needed to add to the mix to help me understand more completely why I find the story of Jesus praying in the garden so incredibly compelling and thought provoking.
The Big Dude Upstairs wants the best for us, always, and without question. There are many reasons why sometimes things happen that I feel are terrible as they are not at all what I want. When His plan and mine don’t line up I try to find a way to make mine work as I know mine has to be better, right? In what possible way is it better for a loved one to be gone? How is it possible that suffering can be the right answer? At a certain point I feel like I could just scream out the anthem of all disgruntled teenagers to their parents, “BUT YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!”
But that’s where I’ve always been wrong, haven’t I? The story of the man and the birds reminds me that God loved us so much that He came down to be as one of us to help us understand and to help lead us to eternal joy.
The story of Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane to choose a different outcome is what I would assume is the most humanly possible and plausible reaction anyone could have. If I knew I had to die to help save others I would try almost anything to negotiate a different solution or to create a work around… especially if I knew just how horrible and painful that death would be on so many levels. Jesus shows His beautiful humanity in that moment. There is no other point in His story in which I feel like I can truly connect with and understand Him.
When I put the two stories together I realize that The Big Dude Upstairs really does understand. He knows that we are going to hurt. He knows hurt and suffering on an exponentially worse scale than I could ever possibly imagine. He came down to save us and wouldn’t even bend the rules for Himself/His Son. If there ever was a time to be able to shift the line or fudge the details a little that was it… but that was never truly an option, was it?
I’m so thankful for all of these bread crumbs that The Big Dude Upstairs has provided over the past handful of years. When I look back I can’t imagine where my mind, attitude, and spirit would be without the lessons He’s taught. Regardless of what happens in the world, to my family, to my friends, and to me I know that there is a purpose for the struggle and the suffering. Each and every difficult trial life has offered has made me stronger, has helped me become better, and has led me to long term joy.
Yes, there are many times I would’ve rather chosen a different path to get there, but I trust in the wisdom of The Big Dude. I have faith in Him as I know He truly understands and He loves me (and all of us) so much that He is willing to do the tough things we need to become who we are truly called to be.