Pressure! Oh what pressure I usually place on myself.
After I was sick for a week and didn’t have to do anything, I was clear to me how much I motivate myself with a stick.
The stick of fear of failure.
The stick of “should.”
It seems like my life has been a pattern of pressuring myself and finding relief from the pressure.
For a few days of illness, I had perspective. I was feverish, so I didn’t HAVE to do anything. If I did read the Bible, I did it because I wanted to.
And now I want to go forward doing things because I want to, not always pressuring myself. It’s not like I haven’t made advances in this before. But being sick showed me that I still have a ways to go.
So I’ve written down some magical ANTI-PRESSURE verses I’ve found —
I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free. Ps 119:32
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gal 5:6
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
But to the one who does not labor, but believes only in The One who justifies sinners, is his faith accounted for righteousness. Romans 4:5
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
My other ANTI-PRESSURE is to keep meditating on the incredible, unending GOODNESS of God.
And along that line, I’ve been sampling this book, “Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.” by Timothy Keller. Do you do that — download the sample 0f a book on Amazon and read it, because you don’t want to pay the $10 for the whole thing?
I do that a lot. And sometimes I find some good stuff. Like this book on prayer. Keller quotes I Peter 1:8 —
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
And Keller makes the point that Peter, “assumed that an experience of sometimes overwhelming joy in prayer was normal.” In explaining this Keller said, “people have a potential for a personal knowledge and experience of God that beggars the imagination.”
Our relationship with God has the potential to be larger than life, more beautiful and enthralling than any piece of art. There is no limit to the joy we can have as we get to know God.
And all of this can eclipse the “shoulds” and the pressure.
You know, I find that gratitude is like breathing. There is always something new to take in with thanks.
And this reflects what Keller’s citing of Scottish theologian John Murray, who wrote —
“It is necessary for us to recognize that there is an intelligent mysticism in the life of faith. . . (God) communes with his people and his people commune with him in conscious reciprocal love. . . communion with God is the crown and apex of true religion.”
It’s all about communion. It’s about taking in God’s goodness, and giving him, in turn, thanks and praise.
I want to make it about doing. I want to find a formula and follow that every day. I want to tell myself that I’m successful.
I pressure myself.
But God makes it about his mercy and his overflowing goodness. He makes it about a relationship that gives, and gives, and gives some more, so that we don’t have to pressure ourselves with need upon need, and thus “should.”
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:5, 7