What do we do when God’s plan no longer serves our purpose? I’d accept suffering more if it didn’t hurt so much.
The cross is where we die, but before we die, we must decide to die. Gethsemane is on the way to Golgotha. We are challenged to say, “Not my will but yours be done.” Many stop here. From Jesus, we learn about Gethseminary training:
Our weapons include vulnerability.
Jesus was at His weakest because He was being called to drink the cup of God’s wrath. Nowhere do we see His humanity more clearly: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matt.26:38).
Peter wasn’t sharing Christ’s struggle; he was asserting his allegiance. Jesus had tried to warn Simon. Sometimes positive affirmation just doesn’t make it.
Struggles are a positive sign. Doug was bummed. He cussed out a guy on his mail route. I asked him, “Would you have felt this guilty a few years ago?” “No, I would have felt great.” “Doug, God is convicting you. That’s good news!” We often interpret struggles as a negative sign. The greater the call, the deeper the conflict. Peter underestimated the conflict and lost big. Jesus fought the fight of faith and triumphed.
We engage the fight through prayer. Jesus told the disciples when they entered the Garden, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Lk.22:40). In the face of conflict, Jesus prescribed prayer. We are not trying to find God’s will but do it. This isn’t a prayer of guidance; it’s a prayer of surrender. When the going gets tough, the tough get—praying.
If we start the fight at the cross, it’s too late. The time to put the armor on is not when you hear the guns going off. Pray—before the important meeting, before the challenge at work, before the date. Understand, Jesus was not going after Satan; He was going after God. I am embarrassed that I have often planned or promoted or pleaded or preached or processed—when I should have prayed.
Victory tastes sweet. Isaiah wrote: “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (53:10,11). An olive crushed, the oil released, a soul satisfied. Peter swallowed the bitter fruit of defeat. He entered the fight—an hour late. Jesus had already faced His battle, and He confronted the Roman cohort with calm.
The big conflict commences with God: will He have His way or will I have mine? Our battle in the Garden offers the potential to produce oil only because our pioneer broke through and won for us (Geth-shemani: oil press). Adam #1 met the enemy in the garden and lost big; Adam #2 met His enemy in another garden, had it out, and won big. Ride on His obedience.
Olives taste okay, but they can’t match olive oil for usefulness. A friend once said, “I have come to the place where if I know what God wants, I will do it regardless.” He had passed his Gethseminary. God had squeezed—and oil was flowing. May it be so for you and me.