Few things test a friendship like a self-move. A self-move exposes the flotsam and jetsam of your life and quickly sifts friends from mere acquaintances. I have self-moved. And I have shared in the fellowship of sufferings of friends who unwisely chose the way of pain. I am no stranger to the perils and pitfalls of moving day. Friendships are tested. Marriages are tested. Logistics are tested – and harshly judged. And most importantly, packing skills are tested.
Packing a truck makes clear who has mastered Tetris and who has not. And if that truck is a pickup, you face the daunting prospect of rigging the tarps. Your scant repertoire of three or four boy scout knots is no match for the gale force of the Interstate. Unless you are an engineer with experience testing concept designs in a wind tunnel or perhaps a farmer, you probably have no idea what is required to secure a load with tarps.
The relentless 75 mph wind produces far more pressure than we imagine as we sit behind protected glass cruising the highways and byways. Odds are you will arrive at your destination with rigging in tatters, flapping in the breeze like Himalayan prayer flags. Intense pressure makes quick work of any false claims to competence. And what is true of our tarps is even more true of our convictions.
Who you are under pressure is who you are. Stress reveals fault lines. Weakness buckles. And the strength bears the load. Pressure reveals who we really are, what is really inside. Pressure blasts away facades, social conventions, and political correctness. In the crisis, who you are, what you are, is clearly revealed. We all think we will stand up under pressure. We are sure we will hold fast our convictions. But will we?
Proverbs 24:10 warns, “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” And Proverbs 20:6 observes, “many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” The Apostle Paul also warns us, “therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12) Do we fear God more than man? Will we resist pressure to compromise our faith? Will we meet persecution like those in Revelation who “conquered by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death?” (Rev 12:11)
How will we handle pressure when it comes? Who we are under pressure is who we really are. We see this first in Exodus, not in the lives of Moses or Joshua, but in the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. We read simply that they feared God more than Pharaoh. They put themselves, the midwives who worked for them, and their families at extraordinary risk because of their convictions. We often focus our scrutiny of these women on their truthfulness, but their courage is prodigious.
The midwives were not national leaders. Nor did they not seek leadership roles in their community. But their quiet, principled resistance thwarted the cruelty of the tyrant. The very policy that Pharaoh thought would exterminate the Israelites was overturned by God to raise up and equip the deliverer through whom he would set his people free.
The midwives’ names are remembered, while pharaohs passed into obscurity. And these godly and faithful women assume far greater historic importance than those all-powerful tyrants who ruled Egypt. Their faithfulness had a great part to play in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. And so does ours. Under great pressure, they lived by faith. What about you? Join us this week as we examine Exodus 1:15-22 and consider what it looks like to live by faith under pressure.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.