When I have a nightmare, my husband, Chris literally pulls me out. As I lay moaning in my sleep, he shakes me, yanking me back to reality. Desperately, I scoot myself towards him and hide in his strong embrace. Breathing steadier, yet still unwilling to move, beads of sweat roll down my calves as I recite scripture declaring Jesus’ victory on the cross and Chris prays over me. Going through these all-too-familiar motions one night last week, I mustered the courage to walk the 12 feet required to reach the bathroom. Halfway across the room I paused, turned back to Chris and demanded, “Don’t fall asleep.” With a sensitive giggle he smiled and responded, “You sound like Jesus asking his disciples to stay awake when He was in the garden.”
A few days before Jesus was nailed to the cross, He went to the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples to pray. Before going off to pray by himself, He asked them to sit and keep watch. After spending time praying, He came back and found the disciples asleep. Waking them up He said, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) And then, again, he asked them to keep watch and pray. And yet again, his disciples fell asleep.
Just as I wanted Chris to stay awake with me, to support me and join me in my fight against my icky nightmare, Jesus asked the disciples to support him in His fight. But, here’s what strikes me. Jesus, given all authority on heaven and earth by God, is entirely capable of fighting the evil one all by himself; He proved that through his triumph on the cross. And yet He chooses not to do it alone. He asks the disciples to help him, to keep watch and pray.
Jesus’ example in the garden, not only communicates that He wants us, his disciples, to join Him in the fight, but also demonstrates how much we need each other. God did not create us to do life alone. He created us as the body of Christ. Romans 12:5 says, “so in Christ, we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others.” Like the leg needs the foot to walk, we are created to lean on and support each other through every step in life.
Could I wake from my nightmares without Chris’ help? Yes, of course. With Christ in me, I could calm myself down. If I’m sad, can I quiet my tears and deal with whatever troubles me on my own? Yes, I could… but when my husband is right there with a comforting squeeze and words to encourage me, why would I choose to go it alone? God doesn’t want me to go it alone! He longs for me to reach out to the body of Christ, in this case my husband, and lean on him for support.
Friends, we need each other. Especially now when there is so much brokenness in our hurting world. We need to speak truth to each other, to proclaim the name of Jesus when others can’t, and to quiet each other’s tears with our love. God gave us a support system through the body of Christ, but it is our job to utilize it. The action point for this is two-fold. We need to ask for help instead of trying to do it alone. And we need to give support even when it’s not requested.
What Jesus asks for in the garden is not astronomical. He simply says, “Keep watch and pray.” Let’s not be like the disciples in Gethsemane and fall asleep on the job. Let’s be alert, look for opportunities to support each other and pray.