Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Pressure’s Off

From chapter 11 of The Pressure’s Off – there’s a new way to live, by Larry Crabb, published by CWR 2002

The Spirit of Christ is always nudging us toward the New Way if we’re not on it and always nudging us farther along if we are. In every circumstance, at every moment, He’s stirring our affection for God until He makes it the strongest passion in our hearts.

When an ex-husband poisons the mind of a teenage son against his mother, she has every right to cry, ‘Foul!’ She’s the one who changed every diaper, worked two jobs because he wouldn’t provide support, carted her boy to every game and stayed when she could to cheer him on, and spent countless evenings drilling him on spelling and math to get him ready for the next day in school.

She must not be faulted for hurting terribly. What’s happened is unfair and it hurts, and perhaps even more than the divorce. The second shoe dropping usually feels worse than the first. Her desire to see her relationship with her son restored deserves support. Unless it rises to the level of a first-place passion.

If that happens, and it almost always will, she’ll find herself living the Old Way. She may not realise this, but she’ll be following a spirit other than God’s. God’s Spirit will be quenched. There will be no peace, no rest, until the Better Life she demands is given. And then it will be the peace and rest of this world.

When something terrible goes wrong in our lives, the first question we typically ask is, ‘What should I do?’

‘To accomplish what?’ the Spirit asks.

‘Why, to win back my son’s affection, of course. I’ve never felt such pain. I must know what I can do to make it happen.’

Counsellors and friends who compassionately offer ideas for reaching that objective are working at cross-purposes with God. Spiritual directors are more on track when they encourage quiet listening for whatever the Spirit may be saying. They can hear Him whispering to the distraught mother. They want her to hear Him too.

‘I know your pain. The Son felt it when His own people turned against Him. But He found His gladness in staying close to the Father. Let Me direct you into His presence. He is wonderful, and He is enough to free you to love your son."

Perhaps God’s Word will penetrate the mother’s heart so that she hears Him say, ‘You will be my treasured possession.’ He offers us relationship in suffering so that we can learn to value intimacy over blessing.

The Spirit is constantly nudging us toward the New Way and away from the Old, toward the Better Hope and away from demanding the Better Life. This first lesson I’m learning includes a radical and wonderful truth: Pursuing my deepest pleasure and moving in rhythm with the Spirit both take me in the same direction – toward Christ! Self-interest and worship go together if worship comes first.
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