If you know me, and especially if you’ve worked with me, you may know that I work best under pressure. Today I am facing a week that is peppered with deadlines and I am starting to feel the steady thrum of the building pressure to perform, to deliver.
I know some people who fold under pressure. The anxiety of being at the edge of failure and having to solve a problem, or finish some work, causes their mind to fog and grind to a halt.
I also know people who procrastinate until the last minute and seem to only work under pressure. They tinker and toy with a problem until it becomes urgent and then they finally throw themselves neck-deep into it. They thrive under pressure but often languish without it.
For most of my life, and in most things, I’ve found myself in the second category. Finding a more balanced approach to handling my workload is one of the areas where I’m still trying to learn, grow and mature. In my quest for growth I’ve come across an uncomfortable truth: God doesn’t work to a deadline.
Intuitively, this makes sense. God lives from eternity. He is maturing and growing us from glory to glory into the likeness of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 3:18) but if we drag our heels He will wait for us, at the edge of our promised land, with infinite patience until we are finally ready to step into all that He has for us (even if it takes 40 years. Just ask the Israelites..).
There is no looming deadline for reading your devotion or spending time with the Father. We are going to spend an eternity together… we’ll get around to it eventually.
Our Father knows the end from the beginning, and He is in no rush.
I remember hearing a worship leader explain the difference between the voice of the enemy and the voice of the Father: “ God leads; the enemy drives.”
God won’t pressure you into growth. Whatever you build under pressure you’ll need to sustain under pressure. I don’t think that’s what God wants for us. He didn’t put Adam and Eve in a high pressure environment and put a deadline on subduing the earth, he gave them a garden and said “take as long as you need.”
I’m not trying to rail against pressure. There are times when we need to be able to perform under pressure. I’ve been watching some of the Olympic events from Tokyo recently and I’ve been amazed by the ability of the best athletes in the world to soak up the pressure of the world stage like sponges, and channel the ensuing adrenaline rush into unbelievable triumphs. But, I don’t think growth happens under pressure or a spotlight, I think growth happens in the quiet moments.
In our fast paced culture, it’s so easy to spend our time living exclusively under pressure. Once the pressure lifts, I’ll kick back and watch Netflix until the pressure comes back on again and I have to do something. If we consistently squander the silences of our lives like that, how will we grow? Will we make the Lord wait for us to sit in silence with Him?
Here’s a scary thought: how many of our prayers are urgent? Do we pray only when we have a crisis on our hands? When we desperately need something ASAP? “Lord, could you please rally the angels, because I think I need the cavalry right about now?!” Is this the only way we can relate to the Father?
What would it cost me, what would I have to do, to be able to sit with the Father and say: “I don’t need anything right now, I just came to behold You.”
That’s the challenge I’m facing right now, and I’m writing this all down because I’m curious if you’d like to take it up with me? When the pressure’s off, when our lives are full of options, what will we choose..?