"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here, while I go over there and pray.' And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.' And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, 'So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.' And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, 'Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.' (Matthew 26:36-46 ESV)
My heart is heavy today. For a little over a year now I have been struggling, agonizing, grasping desperately for some straw of truth. I want to have a genuine faith. Not learned. Not inherited. Not assumed by osmosis. I want every fiber in my being to embrace it, and to cry out with a passion for God.
I want it to be my own.
When I set out to find it the course I took was knowledge. Beginning in Chapter 1 of Genesis, I set out to discover what this Book really says. What it means. How I can really take it and apply it and live it out day by day. Along the way I found some glaring discrepancies between what was actually there and what I had been taught all my life. Some were minor things, some were huge. But the biggest error I found was in me.
This whole time I have been pouring my heart and soul into this quest, hoping that through it I would somehow be able to grasp a hold of God's shirttails and maybe pull him close enough to me to get some answers. Maybe, if I can just get enough information into my head, if I can learn enough Scripture and study enough theories and begin to use the elaborate theological language that makes other people look so holy, maybe then I can wrap my mind around who this God is, and what that means for me.
Now here I sit before you, with a head full of knowledge, and a heavy heart.
I am tired, and I am weary, and it has brought me no closer to Him.
What I've found is just around the time that all the pieces come together and some huge revelation clicks into place in my mind, I discover that someone else has put the very same pieces together in a very different way. And I begin to second guess myself. I begin examining the edges to find one that isn't smooth, and doesn't line up just right. I begin to question:
But they're right on everything else, mustn't they be right on this? But I studied, I read, I PRAYED! Where did I go wrong, did I not study the Greek right? Should I even be studying the Greek without being taught how to study the Greek? Am I wasting my time without seminary? If I'm wrong about this what about all the other things I've just pulled together? Do I even know anything? How can I be teaching people? How can I be leading? How can I ever claim to know anything at all? Where did I go wrong, how many steps back should I take? Where do I even begin?!?!?
And that's where I am. More knowledgeable than I have ever been, and more confused. I find myself at a cross roads, and I cannot seem to find an answer that will give me direction. I open my mouth but I can't get words to form. I speculate and rationalize and try to pull those puzzle pieces back together and cram them into place, but nothing fits. So I try to put them back together as I had them, but somehow the pieces have taken on a new shape, they won't go back together that way either. Before I know what's happening, I find myself at square 1. A Book full of pieces, and no clue as to how they go together.
So I do what humans do best, I seek advice. I go to people whose opinions I value and I ask for guidance. And I get it. Good, sound, biblical, full of love and truth, guidance. Yet I feel no closer to resolution.
Until I get the inevitable gut check from the Holy Spirit: "Child, they are not your guide, I Am."
In the Book of John there is something extra special about the account of Jesus's arrest. It says that Jesus, knowing what was going to happen, approached the band of soldiers and said, "Whom do you seek?" They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Most of our translations then say that Jesus responds with, "I am he," but the "he" is extra. Jesus simply said, "I Am". Then what happens? The soldiers draw back and fall to the ground. The men who are there to arrest him, the ones who come with his blood on their minds, they fall to the ground. Why? Because they get it.
This. Is. The. Living. God.
The God of Abraham. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob.
While I am searching for him in the words on a page, I am missing His divine presence in my life. I have actually been shutting him out, and putting him off, so I could learn a little more about him. And while I'm learning about him, I'm missing Him! He's saying, "I don't want you to know about me, I want you to know Me!"
I'm going to the garden. I'm giving it to God. I'm choosing to believe that He is, indeed, bigger than my human-sized problems. And that He does, indeed, love me beyond my human-sized understanding. And He can, indeed, work outside of my human-sized box.
It's time for me to sit down, shut up, and listen.