The Faces of our Places (Or: How Grows Your Garden?)

Jesus went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, to a place called Gethsemane, where there was a garden. Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and said, ‘Could you not watch one hour?’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And he came the third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’

“Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, [came] with lanterns and torches and weapons. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?‘ So [they] arrested Jesus and bound him.” Mark 14:32-37,39-42; Luke 22:44,47-48; John 18:1-3,12

The garden was a place of regular fellowship, meaningful communion in the cool of shade, sweetened by fragrances of flowering bushes, likely lush hanging pomegranates and figs. A familiar, comfortable, beautiful oasis. But this place of peace and refreshment became a place of disappointment, and sorrow, where Jesus’s closest companions fell asleep after being asked to stay alert and support Him in prayer. It was a place of personal, agonized wrestling in prayer as the Perfect One faced taking on the sin of the world and being forsaken by God, the unblemished Lamb having His hands and feet driven through with crude nails. This hallowed Gethsemane became a place of ultimate surrender of His will to the Father’s. Then it was darkly shadowed by the brutish betrayal of one friend, the cowardly fleeing of others, and his cruel, unjust arrest.

Garden bench, Highlands, NC

A garden has many faces. Special places in our lives can be graced with joy-filled fellowship and contentment. We cherish them and long to stay, undisturbed. But sometimes their peace is brutally interrupted by tragedy, despair, hurt, sorrow. No Gethsemane is consistently peaceful, no garden always free of some weed of confusion, sting of bereavement, or barrenness of soul. 

The Lord gives us gardens to tend, places to meet with him and find comfort. And the communion we share is meant to supply for the seasons of fallowness and suffering, the will to yield to His sovereign plan even when it involves pain.

How does my garden grow? How am I handling the space entrusted to me?

Father, keep me vigilant and surrendered, a faithful tender of the garden You’ve entrusted to me. Bloom here and show forth Your glory.

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