Thursday, March 22, 2012

Have You Been to the Garden With Him?

Have You Been To The Garden With Him?
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

“Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” one of the servants asked Peter in the high priest’s courtyard during the trial of Jesus (John 18:26). While most Christians have never been to the actual Garden of Gethsemane, the question can still be asked, “Have you been to the garden with Him?”

For Jesus, the garden was the crucible of his suffering. The stress was so great that he sweat blood.  It was here that Jesus, the God-Man, fully confronted his humanity. He was given the choice of two paths: his own or his Father’s. He was challenged with the ultimate moral choice to accept the Father’s will, which was the path of excruciating pain, or take the opportunity to opt out of the will of God and go his own way. The stakes could not have been higher as the eternity destiny of mankind hung in the balance. Heaven and Hell waited with bated breath, and angels and demons battled for the soul of the Savior.  Jesus made his choice in the garden, not on the cross.

Have you been to the garden with him? All of us, at one point or another in our lives, will be confronted with personal pain as part of our walk with God. Many, if not most, will face this choice more than once. For some in may be a short season, for others it will be longer. For some it will be some form of physical suffering through persecution, disability, or illness, for others the pain the pain will be emotional and mental. For me, the battle has been with depression and a deep sense of abandonment rooted in my mother’s unintended many absences from our home due to mental illness. These issues deeply impacted my relationship with Debbie, others, and how I felt about myself.

Have you been to the garden? If so, you have been presented with these two paths. Unlike Jesus, we may not have the opportunity to opt out of suffering, but we always have the chance to choose how we will respond to it. One way is to own your pain like Jesus did and say “nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), knowing full well that the will of God meant the incalculable suffering. The other path is to ignore your pain, medicating it, like I did, by becoming a workaholic or, like others, through unresolved anger, bitterness, alcohol, drugs, pornography, illicit sex, and a million other false remedies that offer a temporary panacea but no ultimate healing.

Have you been to the garden with him? If so, you may understand that one may “come to the garden alone,” as the old hymn goes, but one does not have to walk alone. In our darkest hour, when Debbie and I had almost lost hope, Jesus was there. He helped us confront and work through the greatest pain we have ever known. And He didn’t do it alone. Our families, and friends too numerous to name, walked with us, loving us in a manner so seldom seen yet so desperately needed in the Body of Christ today. We would have never survived without them. Because of Jesus and others, though I am still working through some issues and must still choose which path I will follow, immeasurable healing has taken place. To the glory of God, there is a renewed freshness in my relationship with God, our marriage has been healed, and fellowship with others have been strengthened and deepened. New vistas of ministry are opening for us, and the future, though fraught with peril, is brighter than ever.

Have you been to the garden with him?

*All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

1 comment:

  1. As a Pentecostal pastor, I have suffered with Tri-geminal neuralgia pain for about 20 years. It has effected my ministry in many ways, believe me most of them were negative. But as I have 'gone to the garden with Him' and let God have his way while waiting for healing, I have enjoyed wonderful fellowship with the One who suffered immeasurably for me. His love is overwhelming. Thanks for sharing some of your life with us. Lawrence Rae (Malakwa Gospel Church, Malakwa, BC, Canada.)