Getting Through Gethsemane
Joseph Herrin (05-24-08)
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...
The Apostle Paul
The foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of legitimate suffering.
I have observed no greater suffering than that of a person brought to view the cross appointed to them by God, yet not fully resolved to embrace it.
My friend Randy Simmons gave me permission to share anything regarding his life and experiences that I felt might be of benefit to others. I wish to relate to you his recent experiences along with the insight the Spirit has brought to me. What is revealed in these words will surely have bearing upon many lives in coming days, for the Spirit testifies that a large number of saints must soon go through a period of necessary suffering. For those who must do so, the way to minimize this suffering will be revealed. For those chosen to serve as guides to those so appointed to suffer, insight will be given into those reactions to be expected.
I have shared some regarding Randy’s struggles in previous blog posts. Randy has spent a long time in Gethsemane. Gethsemane means “olive press” and it is the place where the Son of God went on the night He was arrested. While praying in Gethsemane, He wrestled with accepting the cross of suffering appointed to Him. It was in Gethsemane that His soul was grieved to the point of death.
Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
I believe Gethsemane is a greater trial than Calvary, for the death is actually transacted in the soul before it is experienced in the body. If there is no acceptance of death in the soul, then the child of God will not surrender their body to whatever cross is before them. However, once the surrender comes, then grace is released from the Father, and strength given to endure that cross before us. Luke provides the following insight to this event.
And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
Notice the order of events. The cross to be borne comes into view. The decision to embrace the cross is faced. The flesh recoils at the cross, but the spirit man desires to not fall short of performing the will of God, and a great wrestling ensues. Once the surrender is made, strength is imparted. After declaring, “Not my will, but Thy will be done,” divine grace is released to the individual. Yahshua willingly passed through this experience to show His elect the way.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
Our High Priest experienced the crushing force of the olive press to show us the way that we too must pass. He faced the agony of surrendering to the cross, for all those who come after Him must also make a similar surrender. His wrestling was intense, and so too is ours. Yet He overcame, passing successfully through Gethsemane, and He has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts that we might also find the will and the power to pass successfully this experience of agony.
For those wondering whether the current events in Lakeland, Florida are truly revival, and whether this man Todd Bentley has been empowered to pass on an anointing to others, let this understanding settle the matter. The anointing of God only comes as a man or woman surrenders their flesh to be crushed. If the flesh is not brought to the cross and crucified, there is no release of the Holy Spirit within their members. If the flesh remains unbroken, it is as the alabaster jar filled with fragrant nard that Mary used to anoint the Savior before His burial. The aroma of the perfume is completely sealed off as long as the jar remains intact. It is only when the outer shell is broken that the aroma of beauty can fill the house and be discerned clearly by all.
We must be broken in order to for an anointing to be released. That which is currently being touted as revival is merely sensation. It is the craving for a feeling, or an experience, that does not require the death of the flesh. Satan will gladly offer mankind a cheap counterfeit for the anointing of God, but his is a deceitful anointing. It neither makes the man or woman more Christ-like, nor does it truly release the power of the Holy Spirit in their life. This counterfeit anointing is embraced as a beautiful aroma, but, because it did not come through Gethsemane and the cross, it dissipates quickly leaving behind the stench of rotting flesh left too long unburied.
Observing my friend Randy, one can understand why multitudes would prefer a counterfeit to the true cost of the anointing of God. His has been a most terrible trial to pass through. What has made Randy’s trial so terribly agonizing is that he has gone so long without surrendering to the cross. Like a majority of those introduced to Christianity in this hour, he was told about Christ’s death on the cross to provide atonement for the sin of mankind, but he was not told about the personal cost of being a disciple of Christ. Most of the church has been presented a butchered version of the gospel of Christ. This version declares man’s sins forgiven, but it leaves mankind unchanged, still in bondage to sin.
Christ did not come to merely forgive mankind their sins, He came to set the captives free. He provided a way for all men and women to walk in victory over sin and death. He was the pattern Son, and we are to follow in His steps. He surrendered His body to the cross, and so too must all of His disciples.
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Omitted from the gospel message today is the great sacrifice required of all those who would be a disciple of Christ. Omitted is the knowledge that all who follow Christ must take up a cross. Because this has been omitted, few understand that there is a cross for them to bear. Those who do come to this knowledge often struggle long to accept that it is so. Few are those who actually see the cross appointed to them and accept it.
The natural order of discipleship is for the cost to be considered from the moment one comes to Christ and begins to express interest in being His disciple. Consider the following words of Yahshua to those who expressed such an interest.
“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying,' This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not forsake all that he has. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Multitudes have been deceived! They have been told by unfaithful messengers that simply by means of their confession of Christ, they have become His disciples. Nothing could be further from the truth. Disciples must be like their Master. They must become as He is in spirit and image, in words and in deeds. Yahshua came in the form of a bond-servant to do the will of the Father. He never sought His own will. He did nothing of His own initiative. He ever lived to do the will of the Father, and so too must all His disciples. When the Father presented to Christ a cup of suffering to drink, He accepted it, though it cost Him His life, and we too must hate our own lives in order to be His disciples.
Yahshua commanded those who expressed interest in being His disciples to count the cost first. The messengers of the gospel today have removed the offense of the disciple’s cross. They have sought to make entry into the Kingdom easy for all, and offensive to none. This is something Christ never did. He never sought to lower to cost of admittance into the kingdom of God.
And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say,' I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.'”
Yahshua never sought to widen the door of admittance. The entry is very narrow, and very few find it, for a cross is appointed to all who would enter. Many will say on that day, “But Lord, we went to church and we confessed Your name. We had fellowship with others who said they were Your followers, and we sang songs about You and ate in Your presence.” And He will say, “If you did not enter by way of the cross, then you are not My disciple. I do not know you. Did I not say, and is it not recorded in My word, ‘Whoever does not carry his own cross cannot be My disciple’?”
This is the terrible truth that the church has neglected to preach, but it will be made known in this last hour. What will be the reaction of those who hear? Multitudes will be brought to Gethsemane and shown the cross appointed to them. A great number will fall away. A remnant will remain and wrestle with great grief in their soul. Of these, some will pass through quickly, resolving to pay the cost, seeing that it must be borne. Yet others will agonize long, halted between two opinions. These will be afraid to fall away and be rejected, but terrified of going forward to embrace the cross.
Christ revealed that all must pass this way, even as He did. This is perhaps the most intense suffering of a person’s life, the great agony of the soul coming to a complete surrender of all it possesses. The soul of a person must surrender all; it must concede to bear all the suffering God determines, with no turning back. Mercifully, this suffering of the Lord was brief. A few short hours and it was over. It was so intense that Christ sweat drops of blood in His wrestling, but there was no need to prolong the trial. How long can a man or woman remain in this place of agony before the mental strain begins to take a toll?
I have watched some stay too long in this place. Carl Jung was truly insightful when he declared that the foundation of all mental illness was due to the avoidance of legitimate suffering. It is appointed to men to suffer in this age. These are the first things all must pass through, but even as they are bitter, they are brief. Our lives are as the grass of the field that grows up in a day and is scorched by the Sun and withers away. The apostle Paul had the right view of these things when he declared the following:
II Corinthians 4:17
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...
The mass of those in the church today have despised all suffering. There is an absence of the message of legitimate suffering in the doctrines of the church. A church that accepts only pleasure and ease and blessing and comfort has grown mentally ill. When suffering does come, these “blessing only” believers begin manifesting symptoms of mental aberration. They will go to any and all lengths to deliver themselves. Absent is the faith to suffer, or to trust Yahweh with the outcome of the trial. The only thought is to deliver themselves at all cost, looking to whatever provision the world holds out to them. Should there be no escape offered, many become hysterical, or depressed, or violently angry, or they manifest their mental distress in some other fashion.
What did Christ manifest when He saw the cross? Did He express Himself in these unseemly ways? No! Having accepted the cross, we read that He went willingly as a sheep to the slaughter.
I Peter 2:21-23
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously...
In a recent writing I shared how the Lord spoke to Randy through a spiritual parable. Yahweh has shown repeatedly that my van is a symbol of the ministry appointed to me, which is a ministry of flesh cutting. It is a ministry of the cross, of preparing the body for burial that they might enter into resurrection life. It has been my appointed lot at times to share with various children of God that they must bear a cross. At times the reaction has been unpleasant, even violent.
Yahweh has symbolized this ministry through the picture of mowing grass, for He has said “All flesh is as grass.” Randy had finished mowing the large part of his grandfather’s yard with a riding mower and was heading back to the shed to put the mower up. The hardest part of the mowing lay ahead, which is cutting around the small lake with a push mower, but Randy had no intention of performing this difficult part. He was through with mowing, at least for that day.
As he was heading to the shed, the mower kicked up a rock and sent it directly into the middle of the rear window on my van, shattering the window. Randy came in and told me what had happened. I went out and inspected the window with him, and he said, “I know this symbolizes something, and it is probably not good.” I affirmed that he was right. Shortly thereafter the Spirit revealed the understanding to me.
Randy had been struggling for months with continuing in the process of flesh cutting the Lord had him in. He was constantly speaking about quitting, of doing something else, of not finishing the course. He spoke of one thing after another that he might do, other than what God had instructed him to do, for the path chosen by God was very grievous to him.
The Lord showed me that Randy would turn away from the ministry of flesh cutting, even as he said he was through with cutting grass, and he would throw rocks at me and the ministry of the cross. This was fulfilled the next day. Randy began expressing great complaint against God and against me. He became heated in his speech, even using obscenities, and he told me there was no way he was going to continue this course.
Part of Randy’s outburst was due to the Lord telling Him that he must pay to replace the window. When he heard the cost, and checked his money, he found it would take nearly his last dollar. This precipitated some complaint on his behalf, and I told him I was not of a mind to accept his money for his heart was not right. He then became very boisterous, saying I did not know what was in his heart, and demanding that I accept the money, for God said he had to give it to me. I realized that God had truly laid this command on Randy, but though he was willing to perform it, he was also filled with complaint that God would bring him to such poverty.
During this period, Yahweh had led Randy to not work, and his money had dwindled down to nothing. Randy feared being in a situation where he was without money, and dependent upon another, even if that other person was God. Having money was a safety outlet for Randy. If things became intolerable for him then he could always use his money as a means of support while he sought something else to do. This halting between opinions was causing Randy much spiritually. He had no joy, no peace, no confidence in the path before him.
I shared with Randy that God was bringing him to a crisis of decision, for he had been halted too long in this Gethsemane place, and it was taking its toll on him. It was an act of mercy on God’s behalf to bring a greater pressure upon him to make him choose whether he was going to surrender completely to all that God chose for him, or whether he would remain uncommitted. Randy was forever saying that he could not decide that day, or commit to all God might ask of him.
I began to pray in earnest that Yahweh would bring Randy to a crisis of decision where he would have to choose, and be delivered out of the agony of Gethsemane. To remain longer would result in mental distress, even breakdown. A day or so later Randy went out and got the small push mower to finish the most difficult part of the grass cutting. I was encouraged by this, for I could see what it symbolized. Yet after mowing just a short distance Randy returned and said in anger "I am not killing myself trying to cut the grass with that thing." Randy had tried to convince his grandfather to purchase a weedeater, to make this difficult task easier, but his grandfather had purchased a small lawnmower, leading to much complaint from Randy. Again the parable was easy to see. Randy was always complaining that God had not helped him enough to do those things he was called to do. His elderly grandfather served as a type of God in this matter, for Randy wanted the cutting of the grass (flesh) to be made easier, but God said it was necessarily difficult. I was very disappointed when Randy declared he was not going to kill himself mowing grass, for this is the ministry of the cross. It is intended to put us to death.
Randy continued to waver, and be uncommitted until the Lord told me that I should move out from his grandfather’s house. I came to see that if I stayed with Randy in this condition, that he would view his wavering as acceptable, when it was not. How can two walk together unless they be agreed? I prayed for the Lord to affirm His direction for me to move, and He did so.
Having packed all my belongings into my van, I headed to town when Randy called me on the cell phone. He said a strange thing had just happened, and he wished to know my thoughts as to what was signified in these events. He said he had just finished a work out at the gym when the power went out. He went to the locker room, where only emergency lights were working. The row his locker on was completely dark, so he asked anyone of they had a light so he could open his locker. A man allowed Randy to borrow his cell phone which had a light on it. With this Randy got his locker open, and as he did his own cell phone rang. He answered it and found that it was his ex-wife.
Randy has been separated from his wife, even as I have borne the same trial. Yet God has given to both of us a promise of restoration. The promises of God are predicated upon our obedience, however. We are told in Scripture that it is “by faith and patience” that we “inherit the promises.” We must follow God obediently as we await the promise.
Randy’s wife has only called him a couple of times, and in recent days she has had nothing to do with him. Her calling was unexpected. She called to tell Randy she was moving to Arizona (Bullhead City - Yes, there is a desert experience for those who are stubborn before God).
The last thing he told me on the phone was that he was still halted between decisions and could make no definite commitment that day. He said he had not told God he was going backward, but he could not commit to going forward. It seemed strange that Randy would make this declaration, for it seemed out of character with the rest of his conversation. However, I saw how all these things fit together.
As Randy told me these things I pulled up to the gym. He did not know yet that I had moved out from his grandfather’s, but I could see that Yahweh had orchestrated all of these events to occur at that precise moment. I told Randy what I saw in these events. I told him that the promises of God were contingent upon his obedience, and his embracing the cross. The Lord was revealing to Randy that the promise of restoration with his wife, the promise of joining me in ministry, the promise of having the light of God to guide him in days of darkness ahead, were all contingent upon what he decided. God was bringing him to a crisis of decision where he would choose.
Over the course of the next couple days, Randy remained in this halted condition. We met on the 22nd, for Randy was very agitated this day, and he told me he had been having a difficult time. I reaffirmed to him again what the Lord was doing in bringing him to this crisis where he would be forced to make a choice. Randy once more gave vent to complaints and justifications and murmuring. I was distressed that he seemed no closer to a resolution than before.
Today, Randy and I were both at the gym at the same time. Toward the end of his work out I heard Randy call out for a man next to him to help him. Randy said he had hurt his back and needed help getting up. Several of us went over to help him and were able to get him on his back on the floor. Randy said something in his back had popped, and he was in obvious pain and could barely move. I discerned that he had pinched his sciatic nerve, a condition I have suffered in the past, and which the Lord has used to speak to me prophetically.
The first time this occurred I was in Payne City (it was literally Pain City), and I was myself wrestling with a cross appointed to me. My wrestling was severe, but like Jacob I knew I had to continue to wrestle until I received the blessing of God. The Jews teach that when the angel wrestling with Jacob touched him in the socket of the hip that he touched Jacob’s sciatic nerve, and from that day forward Jacob leaned on his staff, the power of his flesh being broken, the staff symbolizing his leaning upon God.
Before this accident occurred, Randy had told me that he was still wrestling with God, and he knew he was wrong for all of his complaints. He said the only thing he could see to do was to continue to do each thing God asked him to do. I could see a renewed commitment to follow God, and not shrink back, though he still grumbled some, and sought to justify his previous complaints.
I was actually encouraged when Randy pinched his sciatic nerve, for I sensed the Spirit testifying that Randy was in that same place I had been in some eight years earlier when I was in Payne City and my sciatic nerve had been so troublesome that I had to get a cane to lean on, and I had to sleep sitting up in a recliner. Randy also seemed to understand the significance, and I believe it actually encouraged him. He said he could handle physical suffering much better than emotional and mental suffering. Though I know his wrestling at this time includes both, even as mine did previously.
I wish I could express to you the great agony I have observed in Randy over the course of the past few years. His pain has been primarily of a mental kind, and it has arisen as he has halted overly long in this Gethsemane experience. We would do ourselves a kindness by quickly giving ourselves over to the death of the cross. How terrible are the distresses of the soul for those who stay too long tossed here and there by doubt, fear, and unbelief.
I can also say to those who would serve as wilderness guides in coming days, that such torments are to be expected from those believers who come to view the cross appointed to them. We must not take their anger and careless words personally, for they are the distresses of a troubled mind. I realize the great agony of my own Gethsemane experiences, and this understanding makes me want to be patient with others, hoping continuously that they might choose the way of the cross.
I would ask those who have read this far to remember Randy in prayer. His wrestling is not over, and even after he passes through Gethsemane, there is still a cross to bear. Please pray that he would find courage and faith to entrust himself completely to the Father’s hands. Please pray that Yahweh would still his wavering heart, causing him to walk with great steadiness the path appointed to him. And pray for me, for I too am always aware of the weakness of my flesh. God has truly chosen the weak and foolish things of this world in order that all boasting might be in Him. Are you not thankful that He has so chosen?
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.