It has been a rough week with our kids. We seek to be diligent parents: teaching them the Word, disciplining them when they sin, calling them to repentance and faith, memorizing Scripture as a family, and lots of hugging and playing. And yet, their response is often sin: whining instead of being thankful, lying instead of being truthful, stealing instead of being generous. And to top it off, potty training has not being going all that well so in the midst of dealing with all of that I often find myself on my hands and knees scrubbing urine out of the carpet.
While reflecting on all of this and praying for my family the Lord led me to the Garden of Gethsemane:
“And they went to a place called Gethsemane. 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 that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘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 he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 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.’…And they all left him and fled.”
I have to admit, it was a bit encouraging to see that Jesus was frustrated with the disciples. Their behavior was not all that different from my toddlers. Jesus was in the darkest night of his soul and he asked his friends to pray, and they could not even stay awake. And when the time came, they all left him. And he faced the wrath of God alone, betrayed by these weak men. And he was frustrated with their weakness, longing for them to endure.
Of course, the Spirit was not content to let me merely compare the disciples to my children. One part of the above passage that cut me to the heart is when Christ said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” I think that the implication is that if the disciples had endured in prayer they would not have betrayed Christ. Looking back at this last week the failures were not all in my children. At times I responded in frustration instead of patience, wanted “peace” more than godliness, and dreamed of escape rather than endurance. I have failed. I have been like the disciples.
Luke’s account tells us that the disciples were “sleeping for sorrow.” It was not just that they were tired, but that their response to Christ’s distress was escape when they should have responded by prayer. When the soldiers came to take Jesus Peter took out his sword, was chastised by Jesus, and ran away: escaping. And my response is not different from this. What is amazing is that Jesus did not call them to take up arms, in a physical sense. He actually told them to stop taking up arms. Instead he was calling them to pray. Not to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but instead to call upon the only one who can really give us strength. This has been a humbling, convicting, and refreshing realization this morning. We are not living in a time of rest and escape. Christ could have called us out of the trials of this world, but he has chosen to leave us here and to call us to endure. Like the disciples we have a choice: escape or pray. Escape will only lead us to sin, and prayer will only lead us to the Lord.
My response today is to pray. To pray that the Lord would give us strength that we might not enter temptation. If you are having this kind of day/week/month/life, pray with me using the words that Paul did for the Colossians:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”