Feeling The Squeeze?
So you’ve been consecrating yourself to God and pressing in, and maybe you’ve found yourself walking right into a place where many of the supports and freedoms you’ve had simply evaporate. You’ve probably reached an eye-of-the-needle experience.
Here’s a short list to define what pressing in means: Keeping your mind and your mouth in the Word, tithing and walking in all His ways as outlined in Scripture as the result of your changed heart, to your best knowledge not making excuses for the flesh or the world, listening and obeying immediately, activating and using your faith as you would a muscle, standing on the promises, standing on your position, your blessing and your righteousness in Christ (Eph 1-2; Gal 3:14; Romans 3:21-26; Romans 8). This is not just a morning practice or something you do once a week, twice on Sundays. It’s a moment-to-moment meditation, a space you occupy.
And it can lead to a Big Squeeze.
Suddenly, you have unexpected expenses, leaving you $5 for the next few days – fortunately, you have enough in the refrigerator and enough gas in the car. But whew! It’s feeling close. This scenario can also apply to any personal project, work deadlines, issues with friends and family, especially over the holidays. You get the idea.
Jesus called it a place of “compression” in Matthew 7:14 (Greek literal): “for small is the gate and compressed the way leading to life”. By life He uses the word zoe which refers to the illumination of our spirit by the Spirit of God, which gives us everlasting life; it's also a life we enjoy during our time on earth. We step into it the moment we ask Christ into our hearts. Jesus also said He gives this life more and more abundantly! (Jn 10:10) He often refers to how life in Him should be a steady progress upward, in all the ways that might be possible. And while some Christians and denominations prefer to focus on one aspect of how this life manifests in their own lives, there is nothing in Scripture which points to putting such limits on God and His mighty love for us!
The same principle of a narrowed passage comes up in Mark 10:25, when Jesus says that a rich man finding the Kingdom was like a camel going through the eye of a needle. And yet, having wealth, enough to pay one’s bills and be able to help others, is certainly a part of having the abundant life He has promised for us here on earth. Is He contradicting Himself? Not at all, He’s describing a process of spiritual growth. The place of compression is not where He leaves us, nor should we ever worry when we are in this place.
The last phrase of that verse in Matthew is key – the narrow place is a temporary passage that "leads to life".
And what a life it is! If we only knew the plans He has for us. (Jer 29:11-14)
Eye-of-the-needle experiences are usually brief, another way you know it’s part of the blessing and not the curse. (There is a squeeze that comes from not walking in God’s ways, but it's another thing altogether; it isn’t pleasant, lasts long and worsens. If this is happening to you, repent! Turn away! Let God's Spirit reform and transform you! There's no time like the present to begin the process.) As we walk in the blessing, Instead of being a time of lack or deprivation, these narrow gates can be some of the most interesting and passionate experiences of your Christian walk! For He is asking you to trust Him and step out in faith when the way seems precarious. This is a time of breathless wonder and deepening intimacy with God. If you’ve gotten this far you are going to go through, you are not going to stay there! Just as He was there for Peter, to pull him up out of the waters and set him back on his feet on top of them (Mt 14:31), so He takes your hand. Let Him!
The utter reliance on God that these short-lived periods instill in us becomes part of a glory that stays with us through eternity. (2 Cor 4:17) What an amazing trade-off. And I would suggest that they help us to handle the places of Rehoboth in this life, for just as surely as the sun rises, the way will open and your shall feet tread on more and more beautiful broad places. In fact, it might even be said that those believers who are destined for the greatest earthly success are going to have quite a few of these experiences at first. With all the potential distraction new levels of blessing bring, you will need to know how to carry yourself and make wise choices, for you will have the spiritual muscle to continue to press into that most precious and essential, enduring and rewarding of all earthly experiences, a life which is lived in intimate conversation with the Father. To walk by faith!
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