Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Avoiding Pressure Like the Plague

Isaiah 50: 4-5The sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious.”

Remember these are urgent times that we live in. The pressures that we face continually can be quite daunting and exhausting in the long run. What are you doing to ensure that you are daily being renewed by the sustaining grace of God?

My answer might surprise you.

I think Luke 9:23 captures what must be done daily in order to come into the fullness of what is in the Father's heart for your life—Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." We must take up our Cross daily as we confront the pressures of life. This is the place of the sustaining grace of God: bearing the Cross through your difficult, stressful situations.

What CROSS (in the form of pressures) has the Lord set before you this week?
What tension have you felt rising up in your heart this week that you tried to avoid?
Whose conduct towards you "crossed" your will?
What kind of undesired pressure have you felt on the job recently?

During work on Monday I came across an article in the Harvard Business Review that caught my attention. The author postulated that successful leaders who are able to continue their growth do so by the following principle: "Learn to Love the Pressure."

Oh man, that wasn't what I wanted to read!

Don't get me wrong, there are some type of pressure that I thrive in. But then there are the "pressure-cookers" that seems to highlight my shortcomings or my sheer...uh, shall I say laziness? As I get older, I find that there are areas of my life that I am quite content to remain comfortable. Often we try EVERYTHING we can to AVOID hardship, suffering, or any thing that is uncomfortable. The American way is the way of comfort. And I must add that the "narrow way" is not the way of comfort! As Christians when we avoid such pressure cooked situations, often we are avoiding the very Cross that the Lord has designated uniquely for our lives. He knows EXACTLY what we need to expose the idols of our heart. (By the way I am preaching to myself here too!)

Interestingly an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, Greg Searle, is frequently asked if his success merited all of the sacrifices he made. Without hesitation he responds: “I never made any sacrifices; I made choices.”

So today make a CHOICE to take up your CROSS daily regardless of the pressure that you are encountering. The sustaining grace of God comes to those who humble themselves by taking up their Cross daily. We shouldn’t bemoan the “sacrifices” we’re making—rather we must recognize that the Lord orchestrates our circumstances for a greater good. The pressures in life represent an opportunity for the Father to fashion you for his greater purposes—namely, to forge the image of Christ in you!


Brian Francis Hume


john heasley said...

I completely agree Brian, I believe that cross we carry is life giving, it was never meant to be comfortable. We may be busy, under pressure, stressed and flat out, but we are living, our lives our full, which is what they are meant to be.

Kingdom Shifts said...

John, good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment. When we die to our flesh, the world, etc., that is when we truly come alive. Often we're exerting so much strength/energy to "preserve" our life, i.e., our reputation, our career, our happiness.

I hope all is well for you in Ireland! My friend, Steve Burke (founder of The Lord Shall Provide) just told me the other day that he has felt a "stirring" by the Lord to go soon to Ireland and he wants me to come.

Karen said...

good thoughts, continue to move outside the comfortable into "the deep" - whatever that is for each of not run from or avoid struggle but embrace it as the tool of growth.....

oh and bc of the suggestions via your readers, i got a hold of the book "good to great" far, good reading....biblical principles, of course........:o)


Anonymous said...

Great post. That is really encouraging. Taking up your cross on a daily basis is a choice you must make day after day. It's not something that happens one time at one moment in life.