My story continues. Your story continues. God’s story continues.
We feel our story deeply because, after all, it’s about us…we’re deeply in the middle of it and definitely one of the main characters. While others may not know the depths of the story line or feel the impact of the journey, there are moments when our stories intersect …share the same line for a bit, if you know what I mean.
God’s story is no different. It’s written out in the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation for all to see but it’s not fully personal until our lives–our personal story–intersects with His. You can choose to intersect here and there or you can choose to stay on the same path–letting your story actually merge with God and His story. This is not just a “coming to Jesus” moment …it’s a “staying with Jesus” moment –now and forever!
When I was 15 years old, I chose to fully enter into God’s story and receive the story line He had to offer through Jesus Christ — the story of forgiveness, wholeness, redemption, rescue, hope and LIFE! As I’ve been on this road I’ve gotten to know a bit more about God, my Father; Jesus, my Savior and Friend; and the Holy Spirit, my Comforter and Counselor. We walk together. We laugh together and sometimes we cry together but ironically, it seems I get to know God in a much more intimate way when I’ve fallen and skinned my knee or when I’ve gotten knocked down and am left with bleeding wounds. It’s at those moments I see who Jesus really is …what He’s made of …what matters to Him …how much He cares …how much He really does love me.
These last few months have been one of those “knocked-down-and-left-with-bleeding-wounds” part of the journey. The healing process is slow. I’ve been to a natural pharmacist, a doctor, a counselor …read books upon books about the grieving process … agonized and prayed with my family and close friends, and walked it out with Jesus for miles and miles.
Know this …”in all things God works for the good of those who love Him”–He really does. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
However, the process and the journey can be overwhelming at times and it’s at these moments I’ve cried out to Jesus with, “But what do I do now!!?? Of the umpteenth options listed, which one is best for me!? Natural supplements? Traditional meds? Therapy? …Stay busy? Rest more? WHAT NEXT!!?? What is the best path for me right now!?”
I had a “come-to-Jesus” moment on the way to see my counselor and I desperately pleaded with the Holy Spirit to be fully present and show me the way. He answered. He showed up!
I sat there sharing the surprising “side-effects” I was experiencing in the grieving process …those not-so-pretty places littered with feelings of rejection, resentment, disappointment, and self-pity. At one point I paused and openly acknowledged how lonely I had felt at times. Something seemed to grab the counselor’s thoughts with an obvious–almost visible–reaction in her spirit and the word that came to her was, “Gethsemane“. The Holy Spirit Counselor had taken over the conversation. He was taking me into His story …
I came home to read the entire account of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane –written in Matthew’s gospel.
What I found in the lines on that page was the story of Jesus at one of His darkest moments with 3 of His closest friends–Peter, James and John. He had chosen 12 disciples who walked with Him — learning from Him and experiencing the presence and power of Jesus in their midst but He had 3 in His “inner circle” …close in heart and mind. These 3 are the ones He took with Him into the Garden to pray that night — knowing He was about to be betrayed and sentenced to death on a cross. He was in agony. He knew He was about to die …
Jesus told his friends, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” ( Matthew 26:38 NLT)
…His soul “overwhelmed with sorrow …” (Matthew 26:38 NIV)
In His anguish of soul and spirit, He was crushed with grief …overwhelmed with sorrow…distressed. In this moment He did what any of us would do …He asked His closest friends to sit with Him …watch and pray …stay with Him. “Stay here and keep watch with me.” He was fully human and fully God and He was fully experiencing His human emotions…just like you and I do.
As I read this, I thought to myself, “He just longed for those close to Him to stay with Him …pray for Him …watch for Him …while He agonized with His Father over this looming suffering. I felt His agony when He said, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” …one hour…just one hour?! For the first time, I had some small glimpse into His pain and I could feel His agony and anguish and the disappointment He must have felt …and my heart absolutely broke for Him!
You see, His 3 buddies couldn’t keep their eyes open and kept falling asleep. Every time Jesus came back to them after He agonized with His Father, they were fast asleep. His heart was heavy and their eyelids were heavy. He felt no one there to carry the burden with Him.
It was then that I tried to understand the side of the 3 friends … Bless their hearts (as we say in the South)! For Pete’s sake (and James’ and John’s as well), they were human! They were exhausted! Let’s face it, following Jesus wasn’t very easy at times! They also had no idea what was coming! I get it …don’t blame the friends. They had no idea what they were doing nor did they have the capacity to be all that Jesus needed them to be at that moment. Who could! However, the reality was — in His darkest moment of grief and sorrow, Jesus felt all alone.
My heart was hurting …my soul crushed for Him as I read this account.
I wanted an understanding to my own pain and instead He opened His wounds for me to see …to touch …to feel …to share. He knew that understanding the pain He went through would be the only way to help me believe and fully embrace His power and healing for me. It seems easier to walk in Jesus’ footsteps when I know He’s walked in mine.
And then I remembered further into the story as He was dying on the cross …for me …and for you. He uttered the most painful statement I’ve ever read …”
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27 NIV)
I could hardly bring myself to imagine this loss! Imagine this …in today’s world, at a surface level, it’s as if Jesus would have already been unfriended on Facebook–no “likes”, “shares” or emojis on social media…intentionally left out, ignored and overlooked at social events. But at a much deeper level, He would have been… rejected, abused, betrayed and beaten by someone He made and loved …misunderstood, judged, wrongfully accused, put in prison for crimes He didn’t commit… homeless at times…criticized and bullied! But to say to His own Father …“Why have you abandoned me?” was more than I could stand emotionally. Feeling abandoned by God has to be the most agonizing pain of all and yet He had to experience ALL of this to fully “be acquainted with our grief and carry our sorrows.”
He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
He had to experience all the brokenness so He would be able to fully understand how we feel when we’re broken, rejected, abused, abandoned. My heart broke for Jesus …how could He stand this much grief …this much pain …this much suffering …this much loneliness. I was receiving a gift –a glimpse into His pain — but it was almost too much to bear.
Of course, thank God–seriously! The story doesn’t end here or we’d all die without any hope whatsoever. God did a powerful rescue and resurrection and said “no more to death!” and one day there’ll be “no more sorrow or crying and he’ll wipe every tear from our eyes.” Let me just say, I’m looking forward to that day but I think by stepping into His story in an intimate way and somehow sharing in His suffering I feel like I know Him a little bit better. I knew He was acquainted with my sorrow, but now I feel a little more acquainted with His!
I’m left with deep gratitude and comfort that He truly understands but just as important, I have a greater sense that His suffering makes Him the only One truly qualified and capable to really bear our burdens.