Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CRUSHED


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

At first blush, one can look at these two separate verses from the Book of Psalms and wonder how they are related. I would maintain that they both address a process of conforming us more into the image of Christ.

Let me start by giving you the agricultural analogy of a process that was part of every day life in the biblical era. Olive oil was one of the hottest commodities of that time, used for everything from cooking and personal care to lighting lamps and dressing wounds. The method of squeezing out the valuable liquid was not very easy on the fruit. The olives were first cracked and crushed by a large millstone. Afterward, the crushed fruit was scooped into cloth bags that were stacked one upon another. A large, oblong stone, named a "gethsemane" was placed on top of the stacked bags, providing the weight necessary to remove the oil from the flesh of the olive. The process may be repeated with the same fruit. Caught in a small basin at the foot of the gethsemane, the very best oil was always obtained from the first squeezing.

Now reflect on the rendering of olive oil as you again read Psalm 34:18. Is being crushed in spirit any easier on us than being pulverized by that gethsemane? Yet, God promises that He is close in these times. Through that crushing weight, our faithful Father separates that which is valuable in us from that which needs to be removed and discarded. He promises to use all things for our good. (Romans 8:28) And in ever-increasing measure, into the image of His Son, Jesus. that means removing the parts of us that look nothing like Him and bringing forth the characteristics that do. In fact, He desires this so much that He was willing to send His blameless Son to take on the heaviest, salvation-producing part of that load for us. It's only through Jesus' sacrificial death that we are able to experience the fullness of Psalm 103:12.

What's weighing you down today? None of us need to look too far to realize that were living in a world squeezed by troubles. Pray about what God wants you to look like as you come through this trial. What precious commodity is God attempting to bring forth in our situation? What needs to go?

As the first pressing of the olives produces the most desirable oil, so our trusting obedience and immediate responsiveness are a delight to our Lord. Don't waste the times you feel pulverized by fighting against the opportunity to grow your faith. When we learn the value of painful, but beautiful transformation, our gratitude deepens as we reflect on a Christ endured to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.

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