Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pressure-Packed Road Trips

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!


  1. Congrats to Riley! I have to confess, when I read your title in the email alert, I thought maybe someone had been talking to you about our Washington, DC trip. Haha! It was a positive experience for me all the way.

  2. Hey Stef! I'll pass your 'congrats' on to Riley! I'd love to hear more about your trip! Are you feeling better! Z-Pak to the rescue! Thanks for stopping by! God bless! :)

  3. WOW....I want to be strengthened...not paralyzed with fear! Great post, my friend!
    Blessings, andrea

  4. Andrea! So good to hear from you! Thanks for the sweet comment! May you be strengthened by Christ today!

  5. Hi Maria -

    I didn't know such competitions existed. Congrats to your daughter.

    Thanks for a timely word. :)


  6. Oh Maria, you must most definitely pass on congrats to your daughter. I get so hyped when I hear of young people advancing in the work of the Lord. I just love it and no matter the outcome this will continue to be a great experience for her.
    Great encouragement from your post as I so much need the strength of the Lord right now.

    thank you

  7. Susan - So good to hear from you! The competition is through the Greater Association of Christian Schools (GACS). My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed going to the competitions the last couple of years. I'll pass along your congratulations! God bless!

    Vickie - You're the one who is the encouragement, lady!! Of the competitions that Riley entered, I'm thrilled that she won in the area of Bible teaching. She plans to attend a Christian college in IN this fall and major in elementary education. This kind of served as confirmation in my mind. Please pray that Riley will put the Lord first and love Him with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength! I'm praying for the strength of the Lord to be very real in your life! Be encouraged!! :)

  8. What a wonderful achievement for your Riley! Congratulations to her. It's always an encouragement to see young people discover their gifts and use them for God's glory. I have been praying for Riley and will keep her in my prayers.

  9. Wow! Congratulations to your daughter! What an achievement. Very nice post, too!

  10. Great advice. Thanks for sharing it with us:)

    Congratulations to Riley!
    Happy weekend,

  11. Hi Maria!

    What a beautiful post! Thanks for visiting my blog and becoming a follower. I answered your question in the comment section of my blog.

    Hope you're having a wonderful Friday night,

  12. Dorothy - Thanks so much for your prayers on Riley's behalf! I'd love to hear about what your kids are up to! I've adopted some of your prayer ideas (as I'm driving) for young people in my sphere of influence. God bless you, my friend! Have a fantastic weekend! :)

    Jill - I'll pass along your congratulations to Riley! I think she's getting a bit nervous about the competition at the national level. I know the Lord will be her strength! God bless you, girl!!

    Karen - Thanks so much for stopping by!! I'll pass along your congrats to Riley. Have a beautiful weekend & God bless!

    Katie - Welcome! Thanks for 'following' back! I look forward to getting to know you better. Thanks for addressing my questions. I appreciate your words of wisdom! Have an amazing weekend! God bless!

  13. Congrats to Riley! She sounds like a young lady who can handle the pressure. Thanks, too, for following my blog :-)
    Although I'm of a different faith than you, we all gain strength from our belief in a higher power.

    Hey, did you know I'm originally from Michigan too?

  14. Oh yes, Maria~ The Lord lets us go through things that we may be abgle to help strengthen
    others that might pass our way. He does want to make something beautiful out of our life's
    if we will just trust Him amd let Him shine out through our lived to others.
    So glad for Riley. Hope and pray she makes it another step for the Lord.