Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pressure Points! But where?????

Deep Sea Survivor

How many professional games have you been to and witnessed the exorbitantly long concession stand lines? Have you ever stood in that line? At any point, did you feel sympathy for the individual behind the counter?

I never considered them either until the Thursday I agreed to volunteer at a NFL concession stand. With over 50 thousand guests, free hot dog coupons, understaffed concession stands, disgruntled workers, and new people on the registers - it was a Molotov cocktail anticipating ignition.

Philippians 4:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

The Apostle Paul writes these motivational verses in prison, a place of great physical distress. I can imagine him sitting on a few strands of coarse hay that have flattened from body weight. The air is uncomfortably cold and rank with a stench of death. Three dark stonewalls stand menacingly from floor to ceiling and a solid gate completes the room. Chains constrict him but there is enough slack for Paul to write. He could complain about the walls or consider that the room has an exit.

The pressure of this intense circumstance and the possibility of death are daunting. With just enough light and strength, Paul writes how to live with joy.

His mind is strong and his body has endured a lot, but neither of these things can take total credit for Paul’s survival. Paul eloquently says that his survival is solely based on his internal strength provided by God. It is in his blood. Let me explain…

There are few guarantees in life, however I can confidently promise good days and bad days. Your ability to look back at your bad days is proof you have - you can - and you will survive again.

The bad days contain Pressure Points. In moments of intense pressure – your body/mind will point out a few things. You will either sustain or suffer. Positioning yourself in prayer and pointing to God will help you endure.

Take a moment and consider the massive sea creatures that launch themselves high above the water’s surface and then dive thousands of feet deep. There is something unique that allows them to withstand the bone crushing pressure of those extreme depths.

1. Whales come to the waters surface to take in air and expend air through their blowholes. As you experience your up days – that is the time to take in as much of God’s presence, guidance, and peace. Just because you are in a good place does not negate the fact that you need to stay in contact with the God that got you there. Pray, worship, praise, and purpose time for God regularly.

2. As whales dive deep, their bones should break from the pressure. Instead, they bend. When you are in pressure places learn to be flexible. Staying rigid will only lengthen the moment and cause unnecessary strain.

3. At the lowest points of a whale’s deep dive, their lungs collapse. The whales rely on enhanced oxygen stores in their blood and muscle. It is at your lowest, darkest, and intense moment that you must release control and rely on what’s in you. Paul, describing how he survives his weak moments quotes God, “My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT).Your strength to survive is already in you!

The same blood that fell from Jesus as He was painfully whipped, nailed to the cross, and stabbed in the side is the same blood that provides healing for you today. That same blood is coursing through your veins right now. They expected Jesus to die and stay in the grave – but the blood wouldn’t let Him do it. You have what you need. Generations have shed blood for you to be where you are today. You will survive because you come from a line of survivors, overcomers, and achievers.

Lastly, when the whale darts back up after being at great depths, it occasionally breaches the water’s surface. There are several explanations as to why it breaches the surface. My favorite is that after breaking the surface the immense animal crashes back abruptly. Some marine biologists suggest that this giant gesture is to remove the dead stuff that was attached to the whale. When you emerge from your depths and explode from your past let that dead stuff fall off when you land on top.

Be encouraged! Your down days aren’t forever and what you need to survive is already in you! (2 Corinthians 4:9)

By the way, I survived the concession stand and will be back. The reward is worth the effort!