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The Attitude of Gethsemane

When in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father that "this cup" would be taken from him...that he would not have to endure the cross. Like any human being, the prospect of pain, suffering, and death was unappealing to Jesus. Everything in his flesh was telling him to run!

Then he made the most courageous "attitude adjustment" in history. Immediately after articulating his distaste for Calvary, he said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42, ESV). What an amazing change of perspective! When there is a prospect of trial or tribulation in my life, all I can often focus on are my sweaty palms, my dread for the future, and the strategies I will apply in order to avoid or mitigate any negative fallout. Not so with Jesus. In his moment of acute stress, he chose not to focus inward but to focus upward.

Many years ago--when I was in my mid-teens--my grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember the moment when he told the family about his diagnosis, and I vividly recall the day we were informed that the chemotherapy treatments weren't working and the end was near. As a young man, I had never experienced such loss in my life, so I was naturally overwhelmed. The man who had meant so much to me--the man after whom I was modeling my life--was about to be taken away. I couldn't bear it.

But my grandfather could. In fact, in his final days, I remember him telling me everything would be OK. He applied his genuine faith to a mortal situation and emerged as an exemplar of what I call "the attitude of Gethsemane." That is to say, he opted to focus upward rather than inward. I'm sure he was afraid. If given the option at that time, I'm sure my grandfather would have chosen life over death. Yet knowing the inevitable future, he chose not to live in dread and fear; instead, he chose the victory of the cross!

As countless motivational speakers and self-help writers have rightly articulated over the years, we are each in control of our own attitudes. Although we may feel like emotional puppets on a string at times, such is not reality. From the perspective of our attitudes, we can approach life on our own terms. So, what terms will you choose? Will you choose an attitude that is typical or one that is grown in the Garden?

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