Pressure, pain and pressing situations in life are not places that most people sign up for. But reality is, at some point we all walk in and out of these (pressure, pain and pressing situations) without having to go far to find them because they seem to find us. My personal hope has typically been when these pressing moments in life come and create a crisis, I look quickly to alleviate them find a way to become free from them. But recently, my eyes have been opened to the thought that it might be God setting situations up in my life in order to force things to the surface within me that I didn’t know existed.
It was one day in June 2013 as I was pacing in the Global Prayer Room and talking to Jesus about my life and what was going on within me when I had this revelation. My revelation was this thought, “the calling of God creates a crisis that only Christ can solve.” It seems that Jesus loves to create a context around and within us that causes internal issues to surface that He Himself longs to deliver us from. It’s His activity creating the pressure and it’s His activity delivering us from the internal/external issues that arise if we will respond to Him rightly in the midst of it.
For me personally, the various areas of external pressure in my life and family over the past 5 months (March-July 2013) have caused several issues in my heart to surface. This has forced me to look at things I was not aware were there or I assumed I already dealt with. Through the external pressures that have come in answering the call of God on our lives, we have entered into a crisis, and it’s in this crisis that we see Christ working deeply. So instead of rebuking my circumstances and yelling at the devil, I am learning how to lean into Christ and talk to Him about the things coming to the surface.
It’s here in James 1:2-4 that we get great insight into the activity of God in our lives. James says “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” Now it’s important that I mention the Bible doesn’t call us to rejoice because we have pressure, pain or pressing situations in our lives for the sake of the issues themselves. The Bible calls us to rejoice in the trials and pressures in our lives because it’s evidence that God is at work both in and among us. We rejoice because through the trials God is working on our behalf. Laura Hackett has a song with a line it in that says “…trials and testing prove there’s gold…”
Jesus tells another powerful story in John 15 about the Trinitarian work of God within the life of a believer. Jesus says in John 15:1-2 “I am the True Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” If you think about it, being pruned isn’t really a great time. I mean, if you have deep spiritual wisdom and understanding then you (might) see the benefit of it, but even then it’s still painful. In great kindness Jesus lets us know it’s not because we have done something wrong that we are pruned, but because we have either already bore fruit or are currently bearing fruit.
In my mostly un-renewed mind, as soon as Jesus starts pruning my life (creating the context of crisis) I start to wonder what I did wrong that brought about His pruning activity. When in reality He’s cutting away old thought processes, exposing broken foundations and correcting wrong views of Him that will hinder me in the days, weeks, months and years including the eternal age. During this season I have talked to Him less about the pressure, pain and pressing situations around and within our family and have instead spent my time engaging with Him about who I am, who He is and how He feels about me, my family and others. It’s freeing to look beyond the shears (the crisis) and see the Tender Man who’s working within my life. Beloved, this Gardner has nail pierced hands and a burning heart of affection for weak believers. He’s not a headless horseman with Edward Scissor-hand sheers and a slightly off personality. He’s trust worthy!
Maybe your currently feeling the pain of Jesus’ shears lopping off the fruit on your branches. Or maybe you have recently experienced some pain or pressing circumstances within your life. My encouragement to you is that you don’t run from it, but instead lean into Christ and start up a dialog with Him related to His activity within and around you. The pressure, pain or pressing situation within your life might not be accidental but very purposeful. You just might find Him standing in the midst of your fire with you (Daniel 3:25) or walking among you (Revelation 2:1) like one of the broken Churches throughout Revelation 2-3.