One sizzling morning in Israel, I disembarked with other tourists from an air-conditioned bus, to trudge my way up the clay-baked hillside to Gethsemane. My eyes travelled through the aged trees which were fenced for protection. My gaze wandered along tree branches into the knotholes, and rested on leaves curled from the heat. The guide explained, “This olive tree is three thousand years old. When one part dies, a new shoot rises from the earth to continue its life. Likely, this tree gave shade to Jesus and His disciples as they rested here during the heat of the day. Tradition says our Lord prayed over there.” He pointed, and my eyes followed his hand and rested upon a very unremarkable rock surrounded by a verdant garden. The words of Isaiah came unbidden:
Isaiah 58:11 – The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (NIV)
The day after that, I rested from the brutal sun in just such a well-watered garden, the one where Jesus’ tomb was said to be located. Beneath the abundant greenery, the fragrant flowering Bougainvillea, the shrubs, and shaded bowers, I rested and participated in a communion service. In that holy place, I felt keenly the presence of the One whom Isaiah had prophetically called “Emmanuel”, God with us. I understood deep within my soul that the God who is with us, is the God who will dwell with us, always. No matter what life throws at us, we can rest assured that Jesus is God with us, who strengthens our frame, heals our diseases, and walks among us, unseen by the naked eye. He is very truly the God who dwells with and within us through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Lord God, You assure us that You are with us through Jesus Christ. How can we ever praise You enough for Your blessed presence? Amen.
Cassandra Wessel email@example.com
Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA