Sunday, April 8, 2012

Finding Your Gethsemane

One of the most vivid dreams I have ever had occurred over ten years ago, when I was in college.  In the years since, the dream has stuck with me, constantly encouraging me to keep the right perspective through every decision, no matter big or small.  The most significant factor in giving this dream the influence over my life that it has?  I died.
Today is Easter; billions of Christians the world over are celebrating the Resurrected Christ, who, according to the Bible overcame death and sin through personal sacrifice.  For Christians, the act of Christ’s submission to God’s will as the sacrificial lamb has and always will be the centerpiece of their faith.  Through Christ’s voluntary death, sin no longer has a hold on a Christian’s soul.
While many people focus on the most harrowing portion of the Passion story - the trial, the scourging and mock coronation, the long, burdened walk to Golgotha, the crucifixion and Christ’s release, and ultimately the resurrection - as the most significant portion of the story, I do not.  Though diminutive compared to the scope of other stories, Gethsemane is the most profound story of the Bible.
My dream, all those years ago, reflects the message found in Gethsemane.  While I don’t recall all the specifics, the generalities are clear.  I am in a large city and within the city is a nuclear bomb.  Detonation is immanent.  My job is to ensure everyone is clear from the blast area, and at the time of my dream I am sure that everyone has been saved.  Except me.
As Christ knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, alone amongst his sleeping brethren, the weight of circumstance bore down upon him.  The silence stretched on as he prayed, searching for solace and comfort.  He knew what must be done, but accepting it and moving forward did not come easily.
As I raced through the city, empty except me, I struggled with what to do next.  I knew there was no time to escape the blast radius, yet my will to survive refused to give up, and so I continued in my attempts to discover a way to escape the surety of my death.
Eventually, both in my dream and in the Christ narrative, resolution arrived.  I came to terms with my certain death, and, in fact, found comfort in my resolve.  I knew the only recourse available was to ensure my death was as painless as possible.  Christ, suffering alone, found peace in working the will of God.  He confronted the facts of his situation, acknowledged the reality of his circumstances, and found a place within himself where he knew the significance of his death mattered more than physical suffering and death.  This acceptance propelled Christ into the next series of events, leading to his death and resurrection, and eventually, the Christian belief in Salvation.
Gethsemane contains the power behind the Easter message.  Yes, the Bible tells Christians that the suffering, death, and resurrection releases them from the grip of sin, but without Christ’s powerful contemplation and eventual acceptance of God’s will, the rest of it would have never occurred.
In my own dream, I found comfort in the knowledge that my life was forfeit in order to save the lives of others.  My Gethsemane moment occurred after the completion of my job.  In the mad scramble to escape the city, I came to terms with my death and embraced it.  I raced towards the bomb instead of away from it, and upon entering the room that contained my death, I felt impossible peace that seemed to stretch on forever.   In the next moment, the bomb clicked.  My dream went white and the peace I felt a moment before became fortified with an immense love.  The burden of my death felt so insignificant compared to the enormity of that feeling.  I woke, sobbing at the profound feeling of joy bestowed upon me by my dream. 
I imagine, despite the horror between Christ’s acceptance and his death, that my dream shares similarities with what he might have experienced.  
Since the dream, I hold the feelings I experienced as close to my heart as I can.  Though I have never had the opportunity to experience such a challenging trial in my waking life as finding comfort and acceptance with the immediacy of my death, I seek to employ the same lessons I found in my dream with everyday decisions.  At any junction, acceptance with the results and possibilities following the made decision is vital.  Without it, peace in life remains beyond my grasp.
If you are a Christian celebrating the Easter resurrection today, remember Christ’s decision.  Remember the last lesson he offered to the world before he allowed himself to be carried away on the current of destiny.  Though your life moves forward with the comfort of eternal peace upon your death, remember that Christ shows you how to find peace every day before then.  He shows you how to find your own Gethsemane.

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