Grace Under Pressure

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”~~St. Jerome
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is, appropriately, reminisce, which means “to talk, think, or write about things that happened in the past.”

Why is this word of the day appropriate, you ask? I’m glad you asked. You see, today is February 3. And February 3, 1959, was “the day music died.” On that fateful day, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash in Iowa. This day has been forever memorialized in Don McClean’s famous song, “American Pie.”

This year continues to drag us down as we get more bad news. At this point, I’m not going to divulge the most recent strike, but would appreciate your continued prayers for our family. It’s not as bad as it could be, I will say that. Nevertheless, it is unsettling and disturbing, which probably mean the same thing.

Today is Wednesday, Hump Day. This weekend, we plan to travel to Mineral Wells to go to church with my mother. Stephanie has really been wanting to do that, and we didn’t go on Christmas weekend while we were there, so we just decided to do it this coming week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.
Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Psalm 21:8-13

Here, we find a very important concept, especially in light of our modern culture. The Psalmist identifies that there are enemies. But he does not fight them, himself! He hands them over to God. “Our job is to recognize that there is an enemy and then, in prayer, to trust that God will deal with him.”

“Keep me, O God, from the easy nonchalance that fails to prepare for the onslaught of evil. Keep me also from the consuming indignation that attempts to get rid of the wicked by my own strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

(From Devotions From the World of Sports)

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. . . . But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

In the 1964 Olympic Games at Innsbruck, the United States team was in danger of being completely shut out for gold medals. Past the halfway point, they had won only a silver and a bronze medal. “But Terry McDermott burst onto the speed skating scene to give the Red, White, and Blue reason to cheer.”

Terry was not a media hog. “He preferred to let his skates do the talking.” His coach, however, decided to put some pressure on him, scheduling him for a “dangerous late run,” during which the ice might soften, increasing time.

World record holder Yevgeny Grishin, a Soviet skater, tied with Russian Vladimir Orlov and Norwegian Alv Gjestvang, in early heats. As McDermott’s time approached, the ice improved. “The temperature warmed just enough to create a thin layer of lubricant on the surface.” McDermott sped around the rink, taking a gold medal, and the Olympic record with a 40.1 time. “Terry McDermott salvaged America’s pride and prevented the United States’ first gold medal shutout in Olympic history.” The pressure brought out the best in him.

“Pressure in life either destroys us or strengthens us. It strengthens when we respond by relying on God. Pressure destroys when we look only to ourselves.”

I chose this reading for today’s blog because I’m feeling that kind of pressure, right now. This year has brought sadness and emotional upheaval, so far, and appears to have no intention of letting up. As I drove home yesterday, I realized that I’m faced with two paths, sort of that fork in the road episode, depicted by Robert Frost. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . . ” In my case, one road leads down the path of despair. That would be the one where I rely on my own failing strength. The other road leads to a path of stronger faith. That is the one where I rely solely on the strength of our mighty God.

Which one should I take?

Father, increase my faith. Show me that your strength is worthy of my trust. No . . . I don’t need to ask you for that! You have shown me countless times, in my life, that your strength is worthy of my trust! I don’t need to ask you to show me any more. What I need is to be pushed in that direction by your Spirit. Do not allow me, my Father, to head down that path of despair. It is a losing direction. I cannot rely on my own strength, for I truly have none. Help me to rely on your power; on your grace and mercy. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Be my rock and my salvation, my ever present help in trouble. Be my all in all.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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