The Garden of Agony (Part 1)
Eden, the garden of ecstasy is no longer available to us. We left it in sin and shame and it cannot be regained. All the privileges it offered have been forfeited. And so every man on this toilsome journey through life, in the midst of much tribulation and much soul searching, enters the Garden of Agony.
We do not enter this garden out of choice. Destiny calls us to it and we must heed the call. Jesus said "if a man is to save his life, he must first lose it." Regardless of our socio - economic status, race, religion, or creed - regardless of our prestige, power, or intellect; the day will come when we will have to decide whether or not we'll cross over the brook Kedron.
The brook Kedron represents the sand-line between God's will and man's will. Some of us will decide not to cross over. Some of us will be unable to withstand the agony, the frustrations, the hurt, the suffering, and the despair. Some of us will not be able to cope and subsequently, look for another way out. We'll jump out of windows, we'll overdose on drugs, we'll drink ourselves to death or put a gun to our heads and pull the trigger; anything to avoid the Garden of Agony. The rest of us will confront our garden.
How we enter our garden will be largely determined by the kind of preparation we have made. Man has been a nomad and a wanderer ever since he was exiled from the first Garden; the Garden of Eden with its sinless wonders and its trees of life and knowledge. Ever since we left this garden, man has been roaming in a never-ending wilderness. Now, we find ourselves in desperate need of someone to point the way back.
Well, if we want to get ourselves together again, it is imperative that we go back to the spot where we first detoured from Christ. The hymn acknowledges this fact as it declares:
I've wandered far away from God, the paths of sin too long I've trod. I've wasted many precious years; I now repent with bitter tears. I'm tired of sin and straying Lord, I'll trust Thy love, believe Thy word. My soul is sick, my heart is sore, my strength renew, my hope restore. Lord, I'm coming home.
Somehow, we must follow the same path that Jesus trod. Jesus went all the way. He crossed over the brook Kedron; He went all the way to another tree of life in another garden. That garden is called Gethsemane.
We know that Jesus died at Calvary and rose again. But I ask that you think along with me because in a very real and profound sense, Jesus had already died before He got to Calvary. Somehow, Calvary had already happened in the agony of Gethsemane. Somehow, Jesus experienced spiritual, mental, physical and emotional death in the agony of the Garden Gethsemane.
The Gospel of Matthew represents Jesus as saying, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." Jesus was wholly encompassed, encircled, and overwhelmed with grief. He was plunged entirely in sorrow and woe. Mark records that Jesus "began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy." And it is interesting that the great physician, Dr. Luke, is the only editor to mention "And being in agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground."
Even today, medical literature has documented this rare condition as "hematidrosis" or bloody sweat. When a person is under extreme and severe emotional and mental stress, the small capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone had depleted Jesus of his strength. We say that Jesus was resurrected on Easter, and in reality He was. But in another sense, He died and was somehow resurrected in Gethsemane.
We too, all of us, are on our journey. The first garden cannot be reclaimed. It is a lost paradise. And if we are going to be saved, we must somehow struggle while stumbling to pass through the second garden; the Garden of Agony. We must confront our garden because somehow, it is there where we die and it is there where we are resurrected again, or we fail forever.
And you know, experience has taught me that the greatest agony suffered in our Gethsemane is the fact that it must be suffered alone. This is true of all pain is it not? Agony is of such that other folks may empathize with us; they may sympathize for us, but there is something about agony that all of us must bear alone. It is a point in our lives when we are forced to move to another dimension; a dimension beyond the mundane, a dimension beyond the realm of ordinary everyday common activities.
When we enter our garden, we discover that it is unlike any place we have ever experienced before. It is a place of bitter anguish and a yearning desire to escape, to get away. It is a place of suffering on a titanic scale. It is a place of failing, of deficiency, of spiritual torture, of sinking of spirit.
(continued in Part 2)
* More information about Hematidrosis can be obtained at: beyondthepassion.org.
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. http://www.clergyservices4u.org. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, will be available in July.
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Living Successfully - Spiritual Answers for Modern Day Desires: Part 1
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if any wicked way is in me; and lead me in the way everlastingLet me start by saying that this is not another "How To" article that are so common and successful in today's world. This series of article's will try to go much deeper than the "how" and answer the "why".
First Things First-- Balancing Your Priorities!
I'm not sure Paul had the Japanese culture in mind at the time when he writes, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all other things will be added unto you." I'm not sure how much popularity the bible has in Japan today either.
Is America Losing Its Religion?
Has America known its finest hour? Are we losing our religion and sanity as well? What is wrong with our society anyway? These are baffling questions that are frequently being asked by more and more people, even the media.From environmental pollution to spiritual pollution, from artificial food to artificial joy - these are the side effects of the pursuit of materialism (a by-product of the American Dream, as we know it).
Gods Name... Creation and Undoing!
Over the past number of years, while going through my studies and research, information and answers come to the surface that are most astounding. I have come to understand things differently than I was taught in years of Catholic schooling.
In God's world, everything can be used as an anology to His Word. I'm using this small unassuming small leak in my tire as an example of how if it is let go, can cause a spiritual wreck.
Dream As Big As God!
Sounds like a tall order doesn't it? But I think you'll see that it's what we're expected to do. But you might say, "I've tried that and it didn't work.
The Wisdom of the River: Lessons Learned
Over the past few years I have watched the popularity of whitewater rafting grip the vacation market. "Strange", I thought.
Enjoy The Journey, As There Isnt A Destination
Do you spend your time working towards that "one day when?."? One day, when I have enough money I will be happy.
How Its Always Now
How do we feel the fullness of life itself?We have to go underneath the busy mind. And go into that deep sense of being itself.
A feeling of fulfillment is something we all seek. Here I would like to address this in a way that many of you already know at some level but which I feel is necessary to highlight.
Remote Viewing - Making Light of the Dark
Even Pandora and her box come in two versions. In one, the hideous woes of the world are let loose while locking hope inside.
Hard Times Can Be Your Best Time
Do you have a dream, but are waiting for "just the right time" to start working toward fulfilling it? Will you feel comfortable pursuing your dream only when everything in your life is working? Consider this:The apostle Paul did his best work while he was a prisoner.Buckminster Fuller was bankrupt and suicidal when he envisioned the design for the geodesic dome.
Surviving the Tsunami--Animals and Their Connection with the Spiritual World
When the Tsunami struck Asia and East Africa on December 26, 2004 more than 220,000 humans died, but amazingly the wild animals escaped without harm.Two chained elephants managed to pull free of their chains before the Tsunami wave arrived and they ran to higher ground for safety.
Pursuing Your Destiny
During my childhood days, I disliked Lenten season because radio and TV stations were off the air (no cable yet during the 70's) and food is limited to veggies and fish. Likewise, I was taught that holy week (1) is a time to be sad (at least in Manila), the elders then are singing the passion in a sad tune.
Are you Bringing Light or Discord?
We are living in highly challenged times. Our mass consciousness directly reflects the discord in which many of us find ourselves within our own personal lives.
The Spiritually Dead Church
The spiritually dead church. Now, I am not talking about every church.
Standing in the Gap
I'm weary of saying No to my children. Not just the everyday No's.
Spirit and the Law of Cause and Effect
Most of our troubles are bought about by exercising our own free will.If you have a war, there will be many people, who will ask, Why does the Great Spirit not stop it? Why does the Great Spirit not try to prevent it?The actual truth is that the people of the world are to blame.
You Are a Person of Abundance
Heaven is a place of abundance and earth is a place of abundance. Every where God is, is a place of abundance, for God is an abundant God.
A People in Exile (Part 2)
Mother Nature has this uncanny tendency to turn upon herself - undoing with her left hand what she has made with her right. She sends hailstorms to the destruction of her own blossoms.
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