Squeeze hard enough …
and what’s inside will come out.
No matter how hard you squeeze an apple, no orange juice will come out. Why? Of course, because an apple is not an orange. This is a principle of life: Pressure reveals the true nature of a person or thing because with enough pressure, whatever is inside WILL come out.
There was an apple cider press on the farm when I was a child. It had a big wooden vat for apples and a screw-press apparatus that pressed and crushed them. It took a LOT of pressure because apples are hard. Screwed down hard enough, the juice would flow. Insufficient pressure would only ruin the apples. It took someone with enough strength to apply appropriate pressure.
I will not go in to detail right now, but we are in what feels like a vice-grip of pressure–a lot like that old apple press. We’ve been there for a while now. Though I have learned in past experiences not to be afraid to hurt, it does not lessen the pain, frustration, and intermittent fear, anxiety, and other emotions that come.
Some of these emotions are unavoidable. Others I can hold at bay for a while or control to some degree. The challenge is not to let what I feel affect my spirit. This is one of the challenges of this “place”. Another is holding to what I believe over what I see.
This brings me to today’s Scripture passage. God says, “Do not fear.” This is a command. A command implies that I have a choice to do or do not. So, how can I choose not to fear when I feel fear? Though it sounds like a paradox, it is not. To understand how it is not, there are some things I must know:
- Emotions exist in my mind
- My mind is a product of my physical body
- My body is where I (temporarily) exist
- The authentic “me” is a spirit, created in God’s image
- My spirit is distinct and separate from my mind
My body (and therefore my mind, my conscious awareness) and my spirit are not the same. At the same time I am aware of feelings (in my mind), I can choose not to fear (in my spirit). I can do both at the same time because though I cannot always prevent a feeling, I can override what I feel with what I believe.
What I choose to believe determines what I do. I can then think of what I feel as nothing more than a nuisance I must overcome. Romans 8: 1-18 describes this dichotomy, the apparent conflict, and the difference between mind and spirit which ultimately determines not just what we do but who we are as well.
This is where we are. We choose to believe what God says. This is more real to Karen and me than what we feel. It does not mean that we do not feel fear, anxiety, and all the other emotions. It means that we choose not to act on them. This is real life for us, no rhetoric, no “ivory tower teaching”. It is high contrast, “do or die”.
Today’s verse, Isaiah 41:10, is in that “do or die” category for us now. If it is true, all will be well–in the long view. If it is not true, we have no hope in any view because we will not make our own.
Our decision is made. God has applied the pressure to reveal what is in us. He has the strength to do it. And you should know: We asked Him to do it. He is not doing this TO us, He is doing this WITH our full permission and cooperation.
We both are grateful for this. We get to make choices on this side that will be treasures for us forever, regardless of the outcome here and now. This also is real to us, as Paul says in Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Is it worth what we are experiencing? It both is and will be. Our circumstances no longer determine our belief. Our belief is that, as today’s verse says, God will uphold us with His righteous right hand. So be it, and so it will be.
Today’s Seed™ Scripture and Prayer for May 24, 2023:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10 NIV)
Prayer: LORD, I choose to trust Your promised strength rather than fearing circumstances. I will look for Your help and intervention rather than envisioning what could happen without it. I choose to rely on Your promise to uphold me. Though nothing I see says it will happen, You say it will happen. I choose to believe You. This is my decision and a choice of my will. Give me strength to hold to it. Thank You for Your great unfailing love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org
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‘Today’s Seed’ from E-MIN • May 24, 2023
About Randall Vaughn:
With 40+ years as pastor, author, teacher, worship leader, and songwriter, Randall pioneered E-MIN in 1997–one of the earliest online ministries and today the longest operating. His passion is leading people to deeper, genuine relationship with God. He lives in Alabama with his lovely wife, Karen, and their dogs, Hadi and Rayah. He enjoys hiking, exploring new tech, and “prayer walks”.
Copyright (c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved.
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