A Crisis of Decision Making in an Ancient Olive Grove
It has been two weeks since our return from Israel, and I think I’m finally over jet-lag. There was a 14 hour time change coming and going, and it never ceases to amaze me that this kind of travel is available to us. Val and I were 13 non-stop days in the Middle East in which we hiked over 100 miles according to our guide. This trip was an utterly awesome experience and it will take time to digest and put into perspective.
A poignant moment for me was our visit to Gethsemane. The picture above is of an olive tree that is over 1,000 years old; one of many trees in the Garden that are among the oldest living things on earth. It is humbling just to stand in their presence. It is also humbling to know that a monumental crisis of decision-making took place in this Garden some 2,000 years ago. Of course I am referring to the heart-rending prayer of God the Son to the Heavenly Father in which Jesus asked, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup [the coming crucifixion] from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). Adjacent to the olive grove is a beautiful bas relief (pictured below) that captures the pathos and agony of the moment.
Think about it. In His humanity Jesus the Christ was torn in two by a fork in the road; on the one hand He knew that the mission the Father had given Him was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind, but He didn’t want to die that ugly death any more than you or I would. Thankfully, most of the decisions I have to make are not a matter of life-and-death, though they can sometimes feel that way. That’s the way of life, or so it often seems. It’s impossible for us to see around the next corner in time, but we daily have to make decisions that will play out in time. We want to get it right, and sometimes our choices fall short of the mark. It is HUMBLING! We face these decisions for ourselves, for our families, and for the places where we work, etc. Because we are fallen people living in a fallen world there are occasions when we make a decision only to realize, on further evidence and reflection, that it wasn’t the best decision—and in those cases it is usually best to eat humble pie and choose differently.
Of course, the bottom line is that we ought always to follow the leadership of Jesus in the crisis of decision making; that we pray to the Father, “not my will, but Thine be done.” I am continually challenged and humbled by the decisions that I and the board need continually to make as we seek to lead Summit in the footsteps of Jesus. Some of these decisions I look forward to, and others not so much. My time recently spent in Gethsemane served to reinforce in me the desire, whether in my personal life or professional, whether in the “easy” decisions or the hard, to take everything to the Heavenly Father—and then choose to do what I am convinced is His will. I encourage you to choose likewise.
God bless you all,
Dr. Timothy Orton
Summit Classical Christian School