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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Personal Gethsemanes

Personal Gethsemanes are characterized by a sense of foreboding that excruciatingly painful, tough times are ahead.  Nevertheless, the divine presence is palpable accompanied by the sense this is God’s will and entails his purpose for one’s life—that he will be with one throughout and that after long tribulation will come victory.  This occurs when one is alone; when God is having a private time with his servant.  It becomes an unforgettable set piece and portends the future in general rather than specific terms.  My personal Gethsemane occurred on the University of South Florida campus in 1965.  It was towards dusk in the parking lot of the humanities building.  I was walking across the lot and was stopped dead in my tracks. I found myself alone.  I sensed the presence of God and the love of God.  It was like a father sorrowfully warning me that unspecified tough days were ahead, sad days; but he would be there with me throughout the journey and that joy would await on the other side.  In the following years I was frequently in over my head.  I was jailed for opposing the Vietnam War; I endured tough times at universities and felt somewhat alienated; I intentionally moved into a neighborhood that was full of unacceptable tragedies;  I underwent repeated episodes of mental illness;  I felt stymied in my career and sensed the inexorable passing of time.  Yet joy has come to characterize my life.  After drinking from the proffered cup, in many ways I have experienced victory and have been given a gift of peace.  I feel that God had a job for me to do, and that I did not shirk from it.  One could approach his later years with a lesser sense of faithfulness in pursuing assigned tasks.

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