I love pressure cookers. I even owned one that did three different things – was a rice cooker and also a slow cooker. It broke about a year ago and I have been very sad – as it it hard to replace – they don’t make them anymore.
Our pastor spoke about ‘pressure’ on Sunday – and more to the point – ‘how to deal with pressure’. It is not an ‘if’ pressure happens – it is definitely ‘when’ it happens.
There are many kinds of ‘pressure’.
There’s the IN YOUR FACE turn up the heat to BOILING, uncomfortable PRESSURE COOKER.
Then there’s the firm, solid and constant pressure like one who applies pressure to a wound – to stop the bleeding. It is necessary and does the job.
Then there’s the HOT pressure applied – like a HOT iron applied to clothing to straighten out the wrinkles. Without the heat – it would be near impossible.
There’s nothing wrong with these types of pressure – they are good and we use them all the time in our daily routine. If you are a cook – a pressure cooker is a must – with that pressure – the most delectable and tender meat is achieved. If you have an injury – there’s nothing like a cloth and a little pressure to stop the bleeding – even a tiny cut is helped by applying a band-aid – and that applies enough pressure to stop the bleeding and help the cut heal. If you have wrinkled clothing – a hot iron will straighten out the wrinkles and make everything you wear look smooth and pristine.
In our own personal life – the same principle holds true. But no one likes to feel like they are in a ‘pressure cooker’ – pressed down and heated up – feeling like you’re getting your brains beat out of you.
But pressure has a very useful purpose. If applied to our lives – it can take a hard heart – beat it into submission and produce softness. When pressure is applied to my life – I find out what really makes me tick. The deep things that were hidden – all the selfish narrow minded thinking come to the surface and I experience a ‘cleansing’ of sorts – as the impurities rise and get skimmed off the top. It is a character builder. Nothing like a little pressure to find out just what I’m made of.
I have seen the process in those close to me. The pressure comes – the ‘heat’ and ‘stress’ of life – and there are always two different reactions:
1) Lashing out – blaming, controlling and hiding.
2) Resignation, becoming contemplative, listening and receiving.
In the first group – the person takes the pressure, set-backs and stress and blames others – even God. They question their choices and relationships – even a relationship with God Himself. They never admit – they point fingers and then hide away – never dealing correctly with the pain – pushing those further away from them in an attempt to hang on to their ‘rightness’. I call this group of people the ones who care more about being right – than being reconciled. Maybe not right away – but eventually – these people become negative, distant, and have a ‘victim mentality’ for the rest of their lives. It is a spiral downward into a very dark existence – and only Jesus can heal the person caught up in this mentality.
The second group of people take the same pressure, set-backs and stress and look inside of themselves – trying to allow those things to shape and educate – bringing introspection, deep faith and wisdom. They have all the same feelings and even sometimes, reactions as the first group – but there is a difference: They see the ‘pressure cooker’ of life as an opportunity for growth and development of character. Maybe not right away – but eventually. It opens their eyes to pain around them – they try to reach out to others – even though they themselves are still hurting. These people become mature – wise, empathetic to the suffering of others and a tool for Jesus to use for His glory.
I am praying for you today – that you would allow the ‘pressure cooker’ of life to mold you and shape you into a sweeter, more compassionate person – full of depth and maturity – so that you too can be a role model and someone others can turn to in need. Allow the stresses and hurts of this life to come – embrace the pain – let it embrace you – turn up the heat.