Pressed Down, Shaken Together…

It’s more than 20 years ago now when Ron Kenoly came to Manila. The church I was attending at that time was involved in his concert, and the Sunday after, we sang his song based on Luke 6:38. Choreography included.

I woke up this morning with that song in my head, in spite of the nighttime playlist being Grateful (Julianne‘s first album) and Identity (Isabella Gonzalez‘ first album). While my left-brain puzzled why my right brain was playing the Ron Kenoly video on infinite loop, those two phrases suddenly stood out:

PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER.

And in my heart and spirit, I sensed the words: “Need to make more room!”

More room?

As if on cue, a childhood memory flashed before my eyes.

Before weighing machines became the norm, rice – the grains, uncooked, called bigas in Tagalog – was sold by measure: takal would be the smaller measure, probably a pint; and salop would be the bigger measure, and I think there were two sizes, probably equivalent to one quart and half a gallon. And as in any kind of business, the sellers had ways of, uhmm, maximizing profits.

One was that they, the sellers, would do the scooping of the grains. My mom taught me the trick: the measuring vessel would be placed on a flat surface, and the grains would be gently scooped into it, then leveled off (think of how you measure the flour when baking). The seller would be very careful not to shake the measure and to transfer it into the bag as quickly as possible, so they can hand it off to the customer and end the sale.

They did their best to keep the measure still, because shaking would cause the grains to settle and make room for more. I’m sure you’ve noticed it yourself when transferring a bag of sugar into your sugar container: if you pour it straight in, your half kilo of sugar looks as if it’s too much for your container that claims it can hold up to half a kilo. But gently tap the container on the table once or twice, and the sugar settles down, and you can pour in more.

“Need to make room for more!”

For the past few years, the encouragement we kept hearing from our pastors’ preaching, and most of the podcasts we listen to, was how God wants us to be not simply channels of blessing, but to overflow with blessing. That was one of the first things I remember sharing during our devotional time before rehearsals at Windsong back in 1992: “my cup runs over.”

I’m not supposed to be a funnel, with a hole at my feet that drains out what God puts into me. I am a cup into which He pours His blessings, His goodness — HIMSELF! — until I am full, and then I overflow. Being a blessing does not mean I take from what He has given me and give it away. It means receiving and receiving and receiving more and more and more of Him, but instead of building a bigger container so I can contain all that He gives, I let it spill over and bless people around me.

I remember sharing with Windsong a movie scene of a pyramid of wine glasses, and the host poured into the top glass so that it overflowed and filled up the glasses under it, and they overflowed and filled up the glasses under them, until all the glasses are filled.

“Need to make room for more!”

Since 2012, I’ve been hearing “restoration,” “overflow,” “multiplication,” and in the meantime, I look at my own life and cry out, “how much longer, Father? I don’t think I can stand this pressure for much longer…”

PRESSED DOWN.

Since my mom died in 2004, and I suddenly found myself shouldering the responsibility of settling her estate amidst opposition from my father who chose to interpret the move as an attempt for my brother and me to “get (our) hands on (his) property,” my prayer life has quite honestly become a cycle of “Lord, bills…” Provision. “Lord, groceries…” Provision. “Lord, debts…” Provision. “Lord, medical emergencies…” Provision. “Lord, miscarriage…” Provision. “Lord, bills…” Provision.

Lack and Provision. Lack and Provision. Lack and Provision.

SHAKEN TOGETHER.

If I were still bound by the fiery zeal of youth, I’d probably conclude “RUNNING OVER IS NEXT!! WOOOOHOOOO!!”

But I’m 46, halfway through my 47th year. And the pressing and shaking of the past 12+ years (which includes the loss of two children before birth, and my mother in a fire that razed my childhood home) feels more like a spiritual concussion than a prelude to a dance. All I can think of now is:

“Is it overflow time? Does that mean the pressing and shaking will finally stop? Or at least, take a really long break. Like a remission or something…”

Still, I do cherish the past 12 years of turmoil — not because I’m a masochist, but because…well. All that pressing and shaking did make room for more.

More of Jesus. More opportunities to hang on to Jesus. More instances to clutch at His hand in panic…and more precious moments of being taken up into His arms, held close to His bosom, and hushed to rest. Stormy seas with 30-foot waves, or prolonged droughts in the trackless wilderness…His presence never failed, never left.

I’m honest enough with myself to not say “if the shaking and pressing will give me more of You, Jesus, then bring it on!”

Sorry, but I’m not a martyr either.

“Need to make room for more!”

Have Your way, Lord. You know best. As long as You don’t let me go. In the end, that’s all I really want: that You’d never let me go.

Your will be done.

And yeah, I love You, too.

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