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Under Pressure

12October2012

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Last week my wife and I purchased a pressure cooker, and as the primary maker of supper in the family, I love it. It has solved the problem of how to get in a mid to late afternoon workout at the gym and still get dinner on the table at a decent hour, especially on those nights when one or more of us have obligations outside the home. Just last night I made a delicious Spanish chicken and rice dish with veggies that took almost no time to prep and only 7 minutes to cook. As I marveled at the technology that allows for such efficiency, I started to think about the spiritual implications. Yep, there’s a always a parable to be found, even in the least likely places. Even the kitchen. Jesus himself pointed to yeast and leaven and pots and cups to get us thinking about the kingdom of God and how it works. 

As far as pressure cookers go, the key to getting a great meal in less time is, well… PRESSURE. I began to think about how that applies to my own life with God. This past year has been a year of change and loss for our family. On many levels it feels like we have all been plunged into a constant state of stress, for varying reasons. I suspect you’ve been there, too. But whether the stress is emotional, financial, relational, work-related, or something else, it causes pressure to build up within us – in heart, mind, and soul. Question: when the heat is on, what do you do with that pressure? Do you allow it to spill over in anger toward those closest to you? Do you do your best to ignore it or hold it in, so that, while you might not be harming others, you nonetheless become unhealthy – a sort of walking advertisement for misery and depression? Sharing a common humanity and propensity for sin, I suspect we’ve all done a little (or a lot) of both. But there is an alternative.

In the kitchen last night it dawned on me that pressure is often the very method God uses to prepare us – in the least amount of time – to be his disciples, to accomplish His will, to complete our next divine assignment. Hebrews 12:7-10 says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

Pressure forces the issue of where we will turn for comfort – either to the Lord or to other lesser gods. Pressure forces us to choose between obedience and sin, praise and cursing, prayer and anxiety, trust and despair. So what if, when the pressure’s on, we asked, “Lord, what am I supposed to be learning right now in the midst of this? What do you want to teach me?” No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

JAM@CCD

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