Press On, Lord
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.” –Psalm 52:8
If you are reading this, then you know that I like to write. It’s my way of cleaning out my thought closet. I push notions in there and they start to pile up; in time, those ideas need to be sifted, sorted, and stored. That’s where the writing proves helpful. It’s my way of boxing up those crumpled concepts so that they stack up more easily in my mind. The trouble is that sometimes I don’t know where to begin. Left brain? Right brain? In-between brain? Unaccessed brain? As in most organizational endeavors, knowing where to begin is the hardest part! And, as you well know, things get messier before they get maintain-ier.
So, here is my messier. I want to be a grape, but I am discovering that I am an olive. I know, it’s a deep thought…or an unfathomly shallow one; either way, it’s difficult to measure. Perhaps I should clarify: I would prefer to be splattered rather than pressed. Splattering is what happens when you want grape juice: grape…hammer…splatter…juice. Pressing is what happens when you want olive oil: olive…pressy thing…oozing…oil. Any questions? Oh…okay…I guess that wasn’t as clear as I thought. To put it another way, I like things that bring quick results. I would rather “hammer down” than “press on”. I realize I’ve extremely oversimplified the juice making process, but if I were given the choice between making grape juice or making olive oil, I’d opt for the juice (and the juice maker) hands down. Granted, juice making could be a lot messier (especially if I used the hammer method), but it would also be a lot quicker. That’s why, in my fruity analogy, I would rather be a grape. I’d rather have things happen quickly, even if it’s messy, than slowly…grindingly…methodically…pressingly. But I think, in God’s analogy, I am an olive. I think He’s after oil and not juice.
This awareness came to me several weeks ago. I have been trying to be consistent with my writing this summer and, on top of cataloging thoughts into small containers for this blog, I have also been wrestling with (being pressed by?) the desire to organize my thoughts into a bigger container for a book. There, I said it. Well, I wrote it, and that’s a start. (Not the book…just the notion to write one!) As I’ve struggled with the how and when, and inwardly wanted everything to fall into place, the image of the grape and the olive gradually emerged. The more I tried to set and keep a schedule, the more unraveled my days became; the more I pushed, the more life pressed. That’s when I told God I wished I was a grape so that He could just whack me once and splatter out all that was in me. Granted, it would be messy…and difficult to read…but it would be done; I would have been poured out, well…kind of poured…kind of plastered, and my thoughts would have been squished out. God, however, removed the picture of the grape and replaced it with the picture of an olive. Then, He put that olive in a press and slowly turned the handle, that moved the rollers, that pressed the olive, that released the oil, that filled the vial…that rested securely within His hand. Such was my grape/olive revelation. I desire fast; God demands slow.
As I contemplate this imagery and the truthfulness that lies within it, I’m becoming more resolved to life as an olive: to life in the slow but steady lane. After all, when I think of the usefulness of olive oil in the Bible, how can I contend with its symbolism? It was measured out with flour for the making of bread, mixed in with grain for the presenting of an offering, and meted over chosen heads for the anointing of kings. And where did Jesus spend His last night on earth? At the foot of the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, whose name means “oil press”. Surely, with such comparisons as these, I can embrace the parallelism between my life and the life of an olive.
So, here is how I’ll allow the press to have its way with me. I’ll take the ideas I have for a book and little by little, drop by drop, allow them to spill out here. Perhaps in measuring them out on a weekly (I hope) basis, I’ll not only move one step closer to fulfilling my goal, but I’ll permit the press to work for me and not just on me. Maybe, just maybe, if I submit to its force, something of use will emerge from my fingers; something that can be poured out as an offering and poured over as an anointing.
With this, then, as the preamble for the book I hope to compile, let me now pour out the product of the first press: the title and the synopsis.
The Synopsis of The Law of Opposites
Though the fortitude to write a book is a recent emergence, the foundation for a book was laid years ago. Twelve-ish years ago, to be semi-exact. That’s when I was sitting in my Sunday school class and the topic of discussion was the presence of trials and sorrows in our lives. After a time of sharing thoughts, I offered my illustration of why I believed God allowed suffering. I shared the analogy of a tree being planted; the taller the desired height, the deeper the required hole. If one wanted the glorious shade of a prolific tree, then one would have to ensure an appropriate sized hole was dug. As we apply this analogy to our lives, then we are the tree, our height is our growth toward God and our depth is our being rooted in God. But, in order for our roots to push down, a hole needs to be dug…which means things need to be broken up and hauled away. This is not a painless process and it’s at this point that many a believer asks, “Why, Lord? Why the difficulties? Why the struggles? Why the loss?” But if we can just remember the picture of the tree, then we’ll remember the purpose of the dig: for a deeper hole, for a stronger root system, for a taller trunk, for broader branches. If we want to rise to grow to great heights, then we must first succumb to the digging of great depths.
It was upon the pondering of this analogy that the idea for The Law of Opposites emerged. The deeper the hole, the taller the tree; the two moved proportionally opposite to one another. If one wants to know how deep the roots of a tree go, then look at the height of its branches; as far as one stretches upward so the other reaches downward. Isn’t that just like God to work on (and from) both ends at the same time? Isn’t it in His nature to push and to pull, to stand tall and to bow low, to give and to take? I think so, and this book is a reflection of that very idea. That, whether by looking at what is around us, within us, or above us, we are created by and made to worship a God who governs, and dwells within, The Law of Opposites.
In the days ahead, I will elaborate upon God’s creation of, and manifestation in, the realm of opposites. When we take a closer look at nature (laws), mankind (logic), and God (Logos), we see that the law of opposites is evident in each one. It holds true that what God created, He inhabits. So, should the “doctrine of opposites” surface when we look at the work of His hands and the writing of His word, we would be wise to acknowledge that our God, Jehovah God, resides within the laws He created…and one of those is the Law of Opposites.
Please come back next week for the second pressing…the presence of opposites in Creation.