"Let the pressure be just right.Let the darkness be fleeting and never lonely,So that what comes forth is pure, and an oil you're pleased with"
On a recent family visit, I had the privilege of seeing my son operate an ancient olive press. He followed the instructions given to him perfectly, and pressed a few (not quite ripe!) olives and we saw the beginnings of oil coming forth from them.
Ever since then, the enormity of the meaning of the olive press has been made more real to me than ever. The struggle that each olive goes through to produce this precious oil, is such a representation of what God is doing with us. We need to be squeezed, refined, and put under pressure in order of that pure offering to found in us.
Do we dare to ask for that pressure? That's a dangerous prayer..
It's a scary thing to be thrown into the olive press, I have to trust that the press won't crush me completely, that I will survive this ordeal. This trust has to be coupled with knowing that God loves me, he isn't out to crush me, he will not give me more than I can bare, and he wants the best for me. I have to trust that the pressure which I'm subjected to is just right, even when I think, in my humanity, that it's too much, I must trust that God knows me better than I know myself. The pressure is just right.
When an olive is in a press, it's not only subjected to pressure, it's surrounded by other olives, all of which are also being subjected to pressure, from different angles and at different times. This is also true of our journey with God. We are never alone, even if we rest assured that God is with us and doing a great thing in us through this pressure, we also know that others are also going through their own press, their own journey, their own story.
As that great olive grinder rolls around in it's rut, there is a moment, when it passes over the olives for the very first time, that those olives are in complete darkness. This is the time of the most intense pressure, but it's also the time when the most pure oil is produced.
I have been learning recently to embrace the times of darkness, of pressure and squeezing, trusting that this is God's beautiful way of getting the most pure and sacred of offerings to come forth from my heart.
No one said it would be easy, but do we dare to ask for the process that brings about the most precious and pure of sacrifices?