My Personal Gethsemane

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
Heinrich Hofmann, 1890

© 2017 by Bill Murphy – Originally written March 1997

In the 1980s, an electronics store opened in a mall close to our church. A large dimly lit room surrounded with television sets was in the rear of the store – every one on. Comfortable sofas arranged in a great circle in the center of the room faced the screens. One could sit and relax and choose at leisure which set you wanted – if you were a customer.

On nights after church, instead of going out for a pizza, a crowd of our church teenagers made a bee line for the mall to watch TV. Ownership of a TV was forbidden in our church. Why bring filth into your home? The mall was close to the church, so the rebellious teens were soon found out. They simply moved their meeting place elsewhere – miles away to the airport, safely out of sight of the sin-police. The airport waiting room had TV.

That was just kids. And kids will be kids. Spiritual issues are far more serious for adults.

The Easy Way Out –

There are those from that holiness church I left years ago who still probably think that I took the easy way out. Who knows, maybe they thought I just wanted a TV! The bottom line was – they assumed I could no longer take the guiding instructions (standards) of the church – that I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I spent a tear-stained night in my personal ‘Garden of Gethsemane.’ I stood on the edge of the precipice, yet standing on ‘solid’ ground. I had a strong appreciation for the stable, secure, walls of security which surrounded me. As long as I did what I was taught to do, as long as I strived to be what I was taught to be, as long as I lived as I was taught to live – I was safe – I was secure – I was in the will and the good pleasure of God. I understood there were wolves out there, seeking to destroy me. But I was safe – as long as I stayed within the fold.

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:7-9

I knew that being ‘in the fold,’ meant that I was within the fellowship of God’s people. I was surrounded by the strong walls of that church, its teachings, its precepts, its guiding principles, its standards. It was safe and secure behind those fences. It was comfortable. Yes – constraint was a key – but that was a small price to pay for security and safety.

And here I was considering jumping the fold. Was I crazy or something?

The truth was, I was becoming spiritually lazy. I didn’t have to think – just follow the leader. Stay behind the fence.

I was looking for more. I was searching for more of God. I was searching for that part of John 10:7-9 where Our Lord says, “I AM THE DOOR.”

And He was searching for more of me!

We met that night, and embraced. I continue to hold His hand tightly.