I went to go for a bike ride the other day, only to discover that I couldn’t cos one of the tyres on my bike was as flat as the hedgehog who stopped to tie up his shoe-lace! Undeterred I went to my bike bag to pull out a new inner-tube, only to discover that I didn’t have any spares!
WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?
Then the thought hit me like the juggernaut that didn’t see the hedgehog – why not repair the puncture?! I had the patches, the glue and all the other bits and bobs (including the little grey cubic thing that I still don’t know what is used for) but, to my shame, I have to confess that it had been quite some years since I repaired a puncture, having favoured the lazy, wasteful and irresponsible option of just whacking new inner-tubes on my bike and binning the old ones. (I have since repented and will opt for the repair option from now on!) Anyway, I knew that puncture repair was the only option so I dug deep into the recesses of my memory vaults and went for it:
Step 1 – Remove wheel from bike (always a pain when it’s the back one!)
Step 2 – Prise one side of the tyre off the wheel.
Step 3 – Remove inner-tube.
Step 4 – Locate puncture…
…so, I was doing great until step 4 because the trouble is that unless there’s been a significant rip in the inner tube, locating a puncture in a deflated tyre is not a simple affair – in fact it’s nigh on impossible. Which led to step 5…
Step 5 – Grab pump.
Step 6 – Inflate inner tube.
Step 7 – hold inflated inner tube close to ear to listen for hissing air as it escapes. If you can hear it but can’t locate it, go to step 8…
Step 8 – Fill bucket with water and submerge inner tube and look for bubbles.
Step 9 – Locate source of bubbles and mark with infuriatingly small and fiddly yellow crayon.
Step 10 – Deflate inner tube.
Step 11 – Apply puncture repair patch and leave to dry.
Step 12 – Re-inflate inner tube and, if the repair has held, whack it back on the bike and go for some fun in the mountains!
I share all that because it taught me a simple yet very profound lesson – sometimes pressure is necessary to identify what’s broken! In fact I believe that God often allows us to experience pressure (sometimes significant and painful pressure) in order to reveal areas of failure and brokenness. Pressure can come in many forms – ill health, family problems, work pressures, financial uncertainty, relational strain, bereavement, past regrets, future fears, chaos, catastrophe and confusion. These pressures can come against us as individuals, as couples, as families, in church life, in work life, through friendship and leadership…we will all face pressures throughout our lives. The security that we have as followers of Jesus, however, is that while the pressures we face may be painful, they are NEVER pointless! In fact, in my experience at least, it is during those times that I have come under the greatest pressure that I have learned the most valuable lessons about myself and my God.
The reality is that when all is fine and funky in the life of Dai, he looks like a REALLY good bloke – an attentive husband, a great dad, a passionate disciple, a godly leader and probably one of God’s favourite people ever (in my mind at least!) But add just a little bit of pressure and all of a sudden – things change! I start being all grumpy, irritable, selfish, more vulnerable to temptation, quicker to sin, slower to apologise, tedious, anxious and obnoxious. And while I’d like to think that all this manky filth is only exists when there’s pressure, the tragic truth is that it’s ALWAYS there, it just takes the application of pressure to reveal it! But God doesn’t apply pressure in order to leave us frustrated and floundering in our brokenness. No, He does it in order to fix us. He does it so that when we hiss and bubble under the strain He can pin-point the exact areas of our lives where He needs to apply His grace.
- When all manner of sin oozes out of us, His forgiveness is available.
- When we explode with rage His Spirit can bring self control.
- When we are weak with fear He will apply His perfect love.
- When we are stressed out He can give us His peace.
Dunno about you, but this helps me to see pressure and strain from a completely new perspective.
And it’s liberating!
Rather than pretending that we’re more solid and stable than we actually are, we can now see our sin for exactly what it is, then embrace Christ and allow His gospel to heal and restore us!
As I’ve been thinking this stuff through it’s really encouraged me because it’s revealed to me that God is nothing like the Dai-of-old who would chuck out a damaged inner tube as soon as it ceased to function properly. Instead He is a God who is too loving and faithful to reject what’s wrecked. Rather, He seeks to restore it:
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1 v 6)
Are you spiritually flat right now? Broken? Dysfunctional?
God’s not finished with you. He is committed to doing whatever it takes to help you finish the journey that you started. The pressure is all part of His grace to you.
Hope that encourages you.