Monday, January 29, 2018

Squeeze me - go ahead!

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-3 MSG)
What tests have you done rather well on recently? What challenges came at you that you just faced head on and mastered without even looking back? We remember and rehearse the ones we failed, or that did us in, right? Do we do a good enough job celebrating the ones we "pass"? It is likely we rehearse the failures way more than we celebrate the successes. Why? We aren't satisfied with the outcome! We want to see that altered in some way when that challenge is faced the next time - we want to get a much better "grade" on the test!
You know me...I had to look up the difference between these two words because I didn't really understand why God would tell us we'd face them. A test is defined as the means by which the presence, quality, or genuineness of anything is determined - it tests quality. A challenge is a contest of skill or strength - it defines whose strength or skill we are counting on more - ours or God's. The test might reveal the degree to which something is present, while the challenge reveals the degree to which we allow what is present to be manifest!
Have you ever traveled up a mountain in your car with groceries? I remember taking a trip with my BFF and as we ascended the mountainside grades, I could hear things in the bags / boxes of food items making noises. It wasn't that they were shifting in those boxes or bags, it was that there was this gradual pressure building in some of the items and they were expanding! The bag of chips went from being only halfway expanded to being like a pillow of air! The pressure caused them to expand, but thank goodness, not beyond their capacity!
Capacity "expansion" was "planned" as they packaged those chips, put the seals on the tops of yogurts, etc. They left room for the challenge the climb! I think God does the same thing with us - he seals us with his Holy Spirit, leaving lots and lots of room for expansion! The challenges may come, but we have "room" for the pressure to build a little. We have "expandable capacity" - readying us for the mounting pressure that seeks to change the "quality" of what resides within us. In other words, when our enemy challenges us with the test, he wants to see God "squeezed out of us"! Just sayin!