On a blog about anything and everything, I’ve wanted to write a post about faith for quite some time. If this truly is a blog sharing my thoughts and ramblings on my quirky hobbies, varied interests, and pet passions of the moment, then what would it say if I didn’t write about my faith, something I often say is the most important thing in my life? But then again, how can I do that without being as preachy as the latest episode of The Newsroom and disingenuous to the Good News that is the basis of my faith?
I’ve often been skeptical of Christian blogs. Don’t the daily devotional posts oversimplify and depersonalize what is at its core a relational message? Am I taking myself too seriously? What do I have to say that matters? Why would people want to read my ramblings on Christianity, theology, and faith in action?
Well, who knows. But I’ve decided if I’m going to blog about professional wrestling, Mr. Feeny, Supreme Court decisions, major golf tournaments, TV, movies, and all the rest, then I should also discuss my faith from time to time. Whether anyone reads it or likes it is inconsequential. If I’m going to blog about life, then it would be a travesty to compartmentalize away faith and pretend like it’s off limits. One of the best summations of the problem was in an article about Tim Tebow, “The level of discourse about religion in this country is frankly embarrassing, a bastard child of political discourse.”
There has been a flurry of articles in the internet buzzosphere the past few weeks. They have all been about the busy-ness of our culture. There was the “Busy” Trap New York Times piece. There was the Harvard Business Review urging us to take control of our schedule and choices before others do. There was the plea from within the Christian faith to not be wrapped up in the whirlwind like everyone else.
Then, to top them all off, I found the article discussing how internet addiction is radically reshaping our lives and society. I wish I could write it off as alarmist and an exaggeration, except I’d be lying to myself if I pretended I wasn’t addicted to the internet, my smart phone, and constant connectivity.
Which brings me to Gethsemane... Anyone familiar with the end of Christ’s life has heard about the Garden of Gethsemane. After the Last Supper, Christ goes with his disciples to Gethsemane, a place on the Mount of Olives. There’s a lot of pieces to this story – the part most often discussed is the agony of Christ facing his crucifixion and his submission to his Father’s will. But the part that hit me squarely in the face today upon reading the internet addiction article was the actions of the disciples.
Depending on which Gospel account you read, Christ tells his disciples various things before going a stone’s throw away and praying in agony to his Father.
“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
“Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?”
This man who had performed miracles told them he was overwhelmed to the point of death. This man who had rescued each of these sinners and given them purpose in life to radically change lives asked them to merely keep watch with him.
And what did they do? They fell asleep.
Falling asleep isn’t our problem. Our generation’s Gethsemane is much different. For all of us, what keeps us from praying earnestly, keeping watch, and doing Christ’s will is different. But, like the disciples who fell asleep, we share many of our distractions.
I have so many articles I want to read. I have so many people I want to spend time with. I have these e-mails I need to reply to. I have all these commitments I’ve made. I have to be efficient. I have to exercise. I have these shows to clear off my DVR. I have blog posts to finish. I have the game to watch. I have fantasy football research to do. I have errands to run. I have chores to do around the house. I have to be a good friend, a good husband, a good son, a good brother, a good grandson. I have movies I want to see, books I want to read, places I want to go. My wants are turned into needs, which leads to being stressed simply because it’s my way of being. I don’t know anything different.
I have to people please. I have to know everything going on in current events. I have to…
And the list gets longer. And the to-do list never gets shorter and never finishes. And I collapse, exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I’m sleeping in my own Garden of Gethsemane… and I didn’t spend one moment of my day in prayer, in devotion, or even in thought, asking God what his will would have me do today.
I haven’t fallen asleep and fallen into temptation. I’ve been busy with the worries of this world and fallen into temptation constantly – chasing after the wind online, in my calendar, and in my heart. It’s our generation’s Gethsemane, and we need to be careful.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Feel free to share in the comments what stops you from keeping watch and praying. I’ll conclude with the actual wisdom from the Word of God, detailing the Garden of Gethsemane story from all four Gospels. God Bless!
Luke 22: 39-46
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Matthew: 26: 36-46
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to 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.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Mark 14: 32-42
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.“Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
John 18 also discusses Jesus and his disciples praying on the evening of the arrest.