Pressed with Purpose

Pressed with Purpose

No one wants to be crushed. To be beaten back and forth by the winds of life, just trying to make sense of the chaos that's in front of you. I was sixteen the first time I visited Israel. It did something to me, something inside of me that I'll never be able to explain. Just walking where Jesus once walked, seeing all the places I had read so much about... suddenly all those stories from Sunday School weren't just stories. They were real. But there was one moment that stuck with me... this ancient olive press. I never thought about it much until I stumbled back across this picture today- Me as a young boy trying to move the giant stone around the press. It made me think about what it truly means to be pressed. To be crushed. So many times I find myself under the weight of life, feeling like it's all some big cosmic accident. Here I am, life sucks, and there's no rhyme or reason to it. I'm just pressed and I can't seem to see the purpose in it. But Jesus was pressed too. On the night before he would carry that cross to His death He found Himself under the olive tree, weeping. Scripture tells us He was distressed and troubled to the point He began to sweat blood, saying; "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34, NIV). He knew what it was like to be crushed, to feel that sinking feeling inside that nothing can quench. And I can't help but wonder, if in that moment He too struggled to see the rhyme or reason in it all. Looking back on it, that olive tree is the perfect picture of why we are pressed. I think about those branches that looked down on Jesus in his final hours. For them to grow and produce fruit they had to endure harsh east winds from the desert. Winds so dry and hot they could cause the tree to whither in a single day. Then they were blessed by western winds from the Mediterranean, which brought rain and life. It was the beautiful balance between hardship and relief that allowed those trees to grow and bear fruit. Most of us think that's where the story ends... just bearing fruit. Doing something good in the world. But if you were to pull an olive off the tree and taste it, its bitterness would make you sick. It makes me wonder. We do good, but we rarely consider what it takes to make that good worth savoring. The truth is, anyone can do good, but very few of us are willing to let the bitterness be squeezed completely from our lives, so our fruit can be preserved and used to its fullest potential. It's not until the olive is pressed that its essence can be preserved and anoint the lives of those who come across it. 2 Corinthians 4:8 says we are “pressed… but not crushed”. So in this moment, as the weight is upon you, heavier than you think you can bear, know it's not for nothing. You are being Pressed with a Purpose. When the harsh winds blow they are strengthening you. When the rains come, God is giving you a moment of relief so that you can bear it. You are a work in process and that process is stripping you of any bitterness that might make your fruit unbearable. And now, as you are being pressed, God is using the weight to preserve you. So who you are is more than just a few good deeds. But a perfect living essence of His Grace and workmanship that anoints all who cross your path.

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