Originally published by https://nateandchristy.co/.
LETTER 9 – GETHSEMANE
Dear pioneers, this is the letter that started it all.
Gethsemane… I’ve thought abo
ut that painful night Jesus endured before the cross more times than I can count throughout my own life.
Not that I would ever want to compare or take away what Jesus went through but maybe more so because I see the heart of Jesus in that story in a deeper more real way than the rest of the gospels.
I loved growing up reading about Jesus healing the sick and casting off demons but in Gethsemane, he was the one in deep pain knowing what he was about to endure.
“Take the cup from me!”
I think I have said the same thing to God many nights over as I walked through my own dark nights of the soul.
Dark Nights Where it feels like you are stuck in the pain and anguish of midnight and morning just never seems to come.
I’ve been in seasons of turmoil and isolation with no one to call to help, all the while looking around and seeing other believers seemingly skipping blissfully through life.
I’ve felt like a leper, not a king. Defeated, not the head. Ever felt like that?
Ok, we just got real.
After years of that, It’s hard to break through the lies and see a life beyond the pain of midnight and a thriving life beyond the swirl of the storm.
But why I am writing this? Because I need to address the elephant in the room the church doesn’t address and possibly also the gators lurking in your basement.
MY PIONEERS HAVE BEEN IN PAIN
Last year I laid down our 13-year promise and journey of having visas in the US down at the feet of Jesus and let him have them, I felt like I was laying down a child at his feet. It sounds silly to say, but the grief felt that deep.
I balled like a baby for an hour as years of painful heart sickness were also poured at his feet until somewhere at that moment it turned into powerful worship and my heart was freed from the trauma of unanswered prayer and I fully released it to Him.
I gave him my scars and wounds I didn’t even know were attached. I laid them all to rest.
I’m writing this to you because the Lord said to me “My pioneers have been in pain!”
Is that you? Do you feel like you have been living the pioneer life and masking the pain?
Do you walk into Christian environments and when asked how you are doing you just do the “I’m doing great thanks, praise God!” as you sit in your seat struggling to connect because you have 50 arrows in your back, thorns in your side, and gashes in your feet?
Hmmm, see this is uncomfortable yet true.
SHIPWRECKED, SHELL-SHOCKED & STUCK
Over the years I have received many many emails from pioneers who have faithfully pioneered only to face their GETHSEMANE and been shipwrecked never to sail again.
Every single email has broken me to read because I know that scene all too well.
“We did what God asked and he abandoned us”
“I left everything behind and sold everything for Jesus and it amounted to nothing”
This has been the fate of many pioneers who have been through Gethsemane and never made it through to the other side of the battle.
One of the bloodiest battles of the last 100 years was the battle of Somme France between 1916-1918 where the British fought the Germans in a very horrific battle for both sides.
A young nurse who attended the wounds of survivors from the trenches revealed their haunting memories of the struggle to fight and stay alive at the front in WW1.
Almost every account detailed the long days in the heat and cold, confined and almost sentenced to the hell of war’s misery as they daily lost lives and witnessed the bloodbath that the trenches were known for.
The casualties of this war were far from over even after the surrender as most of the survivors suffered such traumatic mental issues from what they witnessed and the term “shell-shocked” was invented when treating them.
These men who endured such stressful and traumatic experiences daily for two years were never the same again and in essence, still fighting in the war long after the last shot was fired.
I wanted to give this illustration today because just like these men in WW1 many of us go through the wars of life, down in the trenches surrounded by the mess, and even long after the battle is done we carry the trauma and pain of it everywhere we go, affecting every future experience, relationship, and dream.
But we can’t keep living like this and we can’t let our darkest seasons keep defining us or lying to us about our future.
Yes, there is a future beyond Gethsemane.
PIONEERING THROUGH PAIN
There is no other way around it. Pioneering will take you to depths of pain and anguish you never thought possible.
It’s far from the romanticized adventure painted by the lukewarm church. It’s far from the 5-star jungle cruise advertised from the pulpit of recruitment pastors looking for their next religious hirelings.
Pioneering will take you past the laughter and ice cream of the gospel and lead you to the garden of Gethsemane where you will feel crushed beyond crushed and your very soul broken in tiny fragments.
I’m not making a very good case so far for those wanting to be pioneers for Jesus or are already in the middle of it, but I have to be honest.
I have to share the real account of this lifestyle if I have any chance of helping anyone make it to the other side. And yes. There is another side which I will share at the end of this letter.
Even as I write this right now I am on a long-haul flight with my family, on a journey we didn’t get the choice to make in a sense. In fact, one we didn’t want to have to if I’m being honest.
In the last 3 years, I feel like I have experienced Gethsemane over and over til I felt like I too was crying tears of blood.
I know what it’s like to be alone in the dark saying “If it’s your will, take this cup from me!” but then finding you have no other option except to keep walking. I know what it’s like to call your brothers to surround you and cover you in prayer during your dark night of the soul but opening your eyes to see them sleeping.
Gethsemane is pure pain and I can’t dance around it or make it into a Hollywood musical.
WE HAVEN’T COUNTED THE CROSS
I don’t think this generation has counted the cost. We have reduced the Christian life down to a highlight reel of victories and “on stage” moments without being real about the in-between.
We have led them out of the gate ready to take the world but not equipped for the process and preparation that feels like the death and burial of your appetites, desires, agenda, and personal will.
Gethsemane strips you of it all leaving you naked and bare before the Lord.
So let me ask you again, have you been there?
THE ONLY WAY TO RELEASE THE FRAGRANT OIL
Pioneering can have some mountain-top moments. It can feel like a garden of intimacy and adventure in so many ways and seasons, but there is another garden and this garden is Gethsemane.
The garden where Jesus first bled for us. The garden where His spirit was pressed and crushed in agony as He prepared to go to the cross.
The name Gethsemane means oil press. It was from that oil press that His broken spirit was poured out for you and I.
Our lives surrendered to this call in many ways can feel like walking through an oil press.
Pioneering can feel like that sometimes – it’s this tension between what you see with your eyes and what you know to be true or ahead of you.
It’s the pressing of faith and the assurance that what you are clearing the road for is something significant and monumental.
And it’s this kind of faith that releases oil… when we choose to trust him in the middle of the crushing.
But there has to be a prize or a goal. Without that, what are we pioneering for?
Jesus had a goal. He knew what he was in that garden for. Do you? Or have you forgotten?
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2
But what we often forget in Gethsemane is that our darkest most pressing crushing moments aren’t wasted, but they are actually produced by costly and fragrant oil that becomes three things:
⁃ Oil of worship and sacrifice that ministers to Jesus.
⁃ Oil of anointing that equips you for your pioneering mandate. Without it, you won’t have authority or unction without that office.
⁃ Oil of burning that sets you on fire for Jesus and refines your character.
Over the years I have dreaded the refinery season and the crushing seasons but I have found that I can always trace my life’s greatest breakthroughs and acceleration back to the garden of pressing.
Yes, there is no shortcut. If you want to last the distance as a pioneer, you can go around Gethsemane. You need to go through it.
BUT DO WE EVER BREAK THROUGH?
There’s an old Bill Gaither song that sings:
“Hold on my child joy comes in the morning Weeping only lasts for the night Hold on my child Joy comes in the morning The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight”
As I write the end of this letter, It’s now 9 months after my plane ride encounter where this book was birthed and wrote the middle section of this letter about pioneering through pain.
This was the first letter God gave me because I can feel his father’s heart towards the pioneers saying “I know you have been stuck in the middle part of your journey, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!”
You see we will never have to endure the cross like Jesus did, but we will have moments where everything looks upside down and like we have hit rock bottom.. but it’s not the end of the story.
We pass through Gethsemane, get what we need for the road ahead, and KEEP GOING!
So yes, pioneers there is an “other side”
I was put on the spot when asked this question on Daystar in May. Joni asked me “So is there another side? Do we ever see a breakthrough?”
Suddenly my mind started racing like I was flicking through the pages of my book. The Dark Chapters and the Victories. I saw a repetitive thing, dark jungles and unknown terrain, dry deserts, deep waters then finally and suddenly – breakthrough.
“Yes, there is always a breakthrough,” I said.
“If you keep walking, you will always see breakthrough”
You see, Gethsemane is just a front, a facade, a stage set for something God has set up, and that’s a land called PROMISE.
Behind every dark night is an upgrade. But to see it you need to hold on.
Our timelines are all different but it’s a guarantee. It’s who He is. And He doesn’t lead us where he can’t back up what he promised.
Is this still triggering your heart? Is this touching the Hope deferred still lingering in there?
Is it reaching down into your soul and purging out the hidden lies? Stop reading for a moment and let Him minister to you.
He is a good father and he is not leading you on. You may have seen you’re fair share of dark night seasons but Gethsemane is just the shopfront for the wide open spaces and territory he has been speaking to you about for years.
As I was asked that question, I was instantly taken back to when I wrote this middle section of the letter where my heart was in absolute pain thinking of whether I was leading my family to ruin or to victory. At the time I wasn’t sure.
But only a week later, the facade of Gethsemane left the screen and God began revealing what that season was for.
I have spent months upon months in tears as I have seen what looked like my greatest season of death turn into a season of promise and life more abundantly.
But more than that, I’ve seen his heart for his pioneers shining through. And I think that’s the real reason he had me write this book.
For you, the pioneers of his heart who are always leading others into their breakthrough and the church into her next days but rarely get your own arms held up.
This is for you. This is me holding up your arms.
Now look to Jesus and don’t lose your gaze. It will be worth it soon my friends. Let’s keep going together.