The title of her lesson was, "Road Trip to the Fruit of the Spirit." Subconsciously, I sat up a little straighter as she began speaking. Her tri-fold, display board boasted a winding roadway that was traversed by a car backed with velcro. The cute, red vehicle could easily be moved from one location to another along the road. It was a whirlwind trip - visiting nine destinations in the space of twelve minutes! From start to finish, we visited: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Our daughter, Riley, had the opportunity to compete at the state level in Bible Teaching this week. She was to present her lesson as if she were speaking to a children's class. Riley enjoys helping out in the kindergarten Sunday school class at our church, and has been able to get some incredible hands-on experience at school in her Introduction to Teaching class. As parents, we were privileged to sit-in on her "...Fruit of the Spirit" presentation. Her enthusiastic expression coupled with a graceful delivery made me come away thinking, "She's a natural!" But at the state level, the competition can be intense. With ten other competitors, only time would tell who would advance to the national level.
After lunch, we got in the car and made the two and a half hour drive home. Time seemed to stand still as we waited to hear something...anything. At nine thirty, we got the call - Riley had been chosen to advance to the national competition! Wow! What an honor! Now the preparation begins in earnest. The judges comments are taken apart line by line. Adjustments are made on visual aids and oral delivery. Tension mounts at the national level. The pressure is on. How will our daughter handle it?
Thinking of the tremendous tension Riley will surely encounter, I was reminded of a different 'road trip' that gave rise to some literal 'pressure.' Nakalele Blowhole was unlike anything my husband and I had ever seen. Noted as one of the most spectacular sights in West Maui, this blowhole is a result of the shoreline being undercut by the ocean. The surf continues its relentless pounding underneath the lava shelf, and escapes through a large hole on the surface of the lava, spewing out water as high as 70 feet in the air! We had to agree with the writer of our guidebook, who described the landscape that surrounds the blowhole as, "an alien war zone where combatants fought with acid" (Andrew Doughty, Maui Revealed, p. 58).
The amount of water forced through the blowhole can vary tremendously - depending on the tide and size of the surf. We just happened to visit on the right day. The Nakalele Blowhole was doing its thing! The incredible pressure created by the pounding waves was delivering a mesmerizing spectacle. A fellow visitor let us know that of the eight times he had visited the blowhole, this was the most spectacular. Conditions were perfect and the blowhole was delivering! Who could imagine that such intense pressure could produce something so beautiful?!
Depending on our response, pressure can either paralyze us with fear, or produce something beautiful that propels us to victory. If we try to handle things in our own strength, chances are the pressure will eventually ruin us. On the other hand, if we allow the Lord to be our strength, we can hold up under the pressure. Others will notice, and we'll be given the opportunity to point them to our Strength. Remember the words recorded in second Samuel, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: And he maketh my way perfect" (2 Samuel 22:33; KJV).
There IS strength in God for all who trust in Him. The stresses and pressures of life will continue to come, how we handle them is up to us. Allow the pressure to point you to God, Who alone can produce something beautiful in your life, and propel you to victory!