Two Choices I've Learned That Pressure Provides.
When I was in the third grade, I felt like the weight of the world was crashing down on me. I had to give my first oral book report in Miss Merz's class.
I was under pressure. I was only 9 but, nevertheless, it felt like real pressure at the time.
I didn't know how to handle the fear and expectations I put on myself. My teacher let us pick which student would speak first, second, etc. I was hoping she wouldn't notice that I was not ever going to offer myself up to speak. Everyone of my fellow classmates spoke and I was the only one left. Then she made the mistake of giving us a bathroom break.
I went and hid in the boys' room.....for a really long time! I was hiding out of fear. I was running away from the pressure.
I ended up coming out of the bathroom, facing my fear and doing a fine job. Now, I speak to audiences every week and actually enjoy it!
Since then, I've also learned a thing or two about responding to pressure.
Recently, while reading through the life of David in the Old Testament, I came across a familiar but powerful story. Long before Alexander had his "Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" David had one that was FAR worse! The story is found in 1 Samuel 30.
David came home from work to find his house burned down, his whole village torn up-side-down, all of his belongings stolen and worst of all, his wives and children taken captive.
David and his mighty men were tough dudes. They were the fiercest warriors in the land.
But not that day.
That day, they were overcome with despair and wept so long and hard that they had no strength or tears left.
When they got up off the ground and began to rebound in their energy, it wasn't before someone had a terrible idea as to where to channel all of their frustration. His men needed someone to blame for all of the tragedy they were facing. They decided it would be a good idea to stone David. After all, he was their leader and must be responsible!
David was in despair. Not only that, now he was under major PRESSURE. How would he respond?
The Bible says that David, "encouraged himself in the Lord." He took a step towards the secret place.
David held a private worship & prayer service for two: him and God.
David learned earlier in his life what it meant to lean into God in private so that he could withstand any pressure he faced in public. That, my friends, is a game changer.
David didn't always choose well, but in this moment he nailed it!
How do you respond under pressure?
- When you are not hitting the numbers at work and are in fear of losing your job?
- When people are looking to you for answers?
- When you are pretty sure you don't have what it takes to meet the challenge you are up against?
If you will let it, pressure can actually serve you.
Being under pressure causes you to want to move out from under it.
It's only natural. It's not evil, it's human.
The question is, "Which direction will you move to find relief from the pressure?"
When you boil it all down, pressure provides us with two choices: escape to a "sinful place" or be encouraged in the "secret place".
Escaping to a "sinful place" never fixes anything.
In fact, it only clouds our judgment more, numbs our discernment and compounds the situation even worse.
Whether it's gossiping to make yourself feel better about something, turning to drugs or alcohol, sexual sin, or over eating....all of them only provide temporary distraction from the real problem and come with their own huge price tag.
Some people say they are better under pressure. I say it this way, "I work better under pressure but I work best under pleasure."
It's in the secret place that we're reminded that because of Jesus' finished work on the cross, we live under the SMILE of heaven.
In the secret place, we are reminded that any BIG problem, any HUGE pressure, any INSURMOUNTABLE obstacle is actually quite small compared to our God.
Nowadays, I wish my biggest source a pressure was a 3rd grade oral book report! The good news is that I'm not running to the boy's room to hide anymore. I'm slowly learning to step into the secret place to abide.
For years, I would hear Christians talk about the "secret place". I would wonder what they did in their secret place! I wished it wasn't so secretive:)
Finally, I just decided to go and get my own secret place with God. A secret place is any time that you set aside to meet alone with God. It could be through prayer, Bible reading, meditation, worship, journaling...really whatever helps you personally connect with God. The goal is not to marry the method, just stay committed to the mission of seeing that life-giving connection happen on a regular basis.
It certainly hasn't been overnight, but overtime, the secret place is becoming my favorite place.
God has encouragement waiting for you in the secret place. And it's encouragement that you can't find anywhere else.
How could you let the pressure you are facing this week serve you?
If you'd like more, you can also check out a short clip from a message I finished on the life of David called "Avoiding Death by Distraction."
photo credits: todaysmanager.files.wordpress.com, chicvegan.com