Decompress – A Devotion

Decompress

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (TLB)

But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.

 

When a diver rises from deep waters, they must do so systematically. As they come up through the various depths of the water, they must slowly decompress so that their body can adjust to the changes in atmospheric pressure. Rising too quickly will cause the diver to experience decompression sickness that can either have short-term or even long-term injury to the nervous system. Miners who work deep in tunnels that are pressurized must do the same thing. Even though the ascent does not seem to be effecting us, the symptoms come upon the victim silently and quickly. Life is all about balance. It seems to be all part of God’s Plan that human beings learn to live tempered lives rather than become extremists. The Light that is kept in the “perishable container” called our heart seeps through the cracks evident in pressure. But to those being pressed, it appears as though we are about to be broken. The ebb and flow of the Lord in us and through us is our equilibrium but does not remove our fragile humanity. Our bodies are weak and constantly under pressure to concede to the pressures of this life and abandon the idea of faith and confident hope. We are pressed on every side by troubles but not crushed or broken. Lord knows sometimes it seems that it would be easier just to give in and let the walls come tumbling down. We are perplexed because we do not know why things happen as they do, but we do not give up and quit. Today, I for one have strongly considered throwing in the towel and raising up my hands in defeat. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. I am tired of staying just one step in front of the enemy. All these close calls and faith challenges have made me weary and weak. We get knocked down again and again, but somehow find the strength to get up and keep going. God, I think I will just stay here a while.

As believers, we often try to tie on a Superman cape to show the world that we are invincible and cannot be broken. We set out to save the world and everyone it only to run home with our tail tucked between our legs howling. Did you really think that the enemy of your soul would give up that quickly? I was oh so hopeful that he would but it seems as though my life of faith is under constant assault and my hope attacked on every level. Like an action hero in an epic film covered in dirt and sweat, I keep swinging that sword hoping that there will soon be a break in enemy lines and I can advance to victory. The attacks seems endless and the invaders strong. When will this end, I need an intermission. Lord, I need to decompress. I need relief from this constant pressure, a return to normalcy after all these stressful situations. I hear the Lord saying, “But what if I didn’t call you to be normal?”

Matthew 9:16-17 (TLB)

“And who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? For the patch would tear away and make the hole worse. And who would use old wineskins to store new wine? For the old skins would burst with the pressure, and the wine would be spilled and skins ruined. Only new wineskins are used to store new wine. That way both are preserved.”

 

Let’s review the past year of my life, as if the Lord was not there and does not already see it. We started the year by finishing our son’s fourth cancer treatment ending his fourth relapse. Relapse as in for the last three years it has occurred three other times not counting his original diagnosis. At some point, fighting cancer became a normal thing in our life. We ended treatment ready to go directly to a bone marrow transplant to end this cycle. In January, the sweet young man dating our daughter asked for her hand in marriage. We planned the date neatly on the calendar for Fall assuming our son’s transplant would be complete and that he would be recovered. We then received word that the treatment was denied because it was not the usual treatment for this form of rare cancer. So we started fighting again. This time insurance companies, corporate offices, hospital administration and on and on. Finally, he was approved by the Goodness and Grace of God. But now we had to postpone the wedding to accommodate his care. Emotional overload sets in with interrupted expectation. A few weeks feels like a lifetime when you are young and in love. Treatment goes as planned our son does amazingly well and miraculously recovers. Life back to normal, right? Not so fast, return to work to be audited. Audit still ongoing. Accreditation time with many new responsibilities so we take on a major campus event about two weeks before the wedding day. If I can just make it through that we are home free. Yeah, that’s what you thought. The day of the campus event notified that now there will be a federal audit in two weeks all preliminary documentation is due. This is the federal government who does not take no for an answer but will gladly take the federal funds back graciously given as grants to students. No problem. We are still on track…well kind of. Mix in the random acts of ordinary life such as planning and preparing meals, homework, laundry and household chores with two teenage (or close to it) girls with attitudes and moods just for fun. With each new pressure, I seek the Lord to adjust the Lord so that I do not give up but keep walking. Then the call comes, my mother has suddenly passed away just like that. She struggled most of her life with addiction that ultimately took her from us. Years of little communication became a slamming door bolted by the finality of death. Her family has called on the next of kin. So my brother and I must make arrangements and deal with grief. Could this very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back? My weak body is rattled. My flesh is weak. My spirit is flailing around looking for relief. Could this be the breaking point? Will I burst under pressure?

There is more that I could have added but I think you get the point. If you are in the midst of such pressure, then you understand the feeling. The need to return to some state of normal but I am challenged by the thought that if it is the Presence of God that we seek in our life this is not an option. Decompression is reserved for those who long to return to the previous environment from which they came. What if a return to “normal” is not possible because God’s Plan is forcing us out of our comfort zone to new and uncharted territory, then what? We must adjust to the pressure in our life and make more room for His Spirit to sustain us. I can feel my heart quaking on the inside of me. Lord, I don’t want to be strong. I am sick of falling only to get back up and go at it again. If I lay down and choose not to get up, what will happen? Nothing absolutely nothing. But is that what you are after? Do you cry out for an ordinary existence but press the Lord for the extraordinary? Do you want to live naturally or supernaturally? Old wineskins cannot sustain the pressure of new wine that is still expanding through the fermentation process. Winemakers had to use new skins that still had some elasticity in them or lose their substance. God’s Glory is intended for our life. We cannot contain all that God has for us so He shapes and molds us to hold more and more of His Glory, Goodness and Grace. The process is uncomfortable. Sometimes the pressure seems unbearable. But He promises for those who continue to get back up that it will be worth it.

Psalm 42:1-2 (TLB)

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him?

 

Psalm 42:7 (TLB)

All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour upon me like a thundering cataract. (Literally means deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterfalls.)

 

Have you longed for God? Do you thirst for Jesus the Son of the Living God? Have you sought Him out with the intent of finding Him so you can present your life a living sacrifice before the Lord? Do you full understand what you have been asking for? You have invited pressure into your life by insisting to be where He is found. You have allowed troubles to test you so your faith will be genuine giving you further access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are not going to fall apart but you may be broken. God is moving His Glory in you and through you. You cannot contain the Power of God flowing through your life it is massive compared to your fragile human heart. You called out for deeper things, God is pulling you under right now. He is showing you “how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is” so that you will experience it firsthand. When we encounter the Love of God at first the pressure seems unbearable but once we are broken before Him, His Love does something remarkable.

Hosea 6:1-3 (TLB)

“‘Come, let us return to the Lord; it is he who has torn us—he will heal us. He has wounded—he will bind us up. In just a couple of days, or three at the most, he will set us on our feet again to live in his kindness! Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him, and he will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring.’”

 

Rather than decompress, I need to press in more to become acclimated with His Presence and receive all that He has promised beginning with healing. The Lord is strengthening me but must first get me to let go of those things that I hold on to by my own strength. My situation must go beyond that which I can control or contain to be what God has planned. His Plan is good. It contains a future and hope that is more than I could even think to ask for. It requires the complete decimation of my way to fully embrace His Word, Will and Way in my life. He wants to set my feet to live in His Kindness and receive His Favor. Old things must pass away to make room for all the new things that the Lord is doing in my life. I can feel my hands beginning to flex and move at the thought of getting up again but my sinful nature keeps asking me, “What’s the point?”

Galatians 5:16-17 (TLB)

I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures.

As a believer, pressure will always be a part of my natural and spiritual life in an effort to have all that God promised for our life. An ordinary life can be normal but an extraordinary life is not. I must understand what it is that I am asking the Lord to do in my life and accept the pressure to change that comes with it along with the need to endure. It is a challenge when every fiber of my being is calling it quits yet faith pushes its hand up. Hope keeps me in this place of desiring God even when I want to give in to the pressure. The Lord has given me His Spirit. I must empower His Spirit by following His Instructions which sometimes are getting up when we have been knocked down. It means never giving up even when we really think we want to. We must never give in the pressure to settle, compromise or concede any part of our life. We cannot do this in our own strength but must rely on Jesus to fortify our heart, build up our soul and restore our strength to keep fighting for our faith even when the battle wages on.

Philippians 3:13-14 (TLB)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.

 

My flesh is groaning at the thought today, as my spirit decides to keep going and pursue Christ at all costs. I am not what I should be as is evident by my attitude and actions. But that will not stop me from concentrating my energy and effort on one thing. I will finish the race of faith and claim my prize if it requires my whole life. I will have all that the Lord has promised because He died to give it to me. I may remember this awful time but it will be regarded as the realm of hope. Thinking of giving up today? Yeah, me too. Do I really want to decompress? Do I want a normal life? Not really. So I guess I’ll just press on to the high calling of God on my life.

Isaiah 40:31 (TLB)

 No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.

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