Made my pancakes last night. I’d forgotten to get my jiffy lemon juice, but found a rather dried out lemon hanging out in the fridge. The skin was rock solid, but I managed to cut through it, and the juice ran out just fine. Good pancakes!
The Israelites were commanded to bring olive oil, that had been pressed out by hand – probably using a mortar and pestle, but not using a mill or press, since that would make it cloudy (Exodus 27:20-21). It was to be clear oil, that would burn brightly. It would be the oil that would come out readily, not forced under high pressure.
Olive oil in the bible, usually symbolises the Holy Spirit. And that is what we should be full of. When I squeezed the lemon, what came out? Lemon juice. When the Israelites squeezed the olives what came out? Olive oil. When I am under pressure, I hope what comes out is Holy Spirit fruit juice – goodness, kindness, long-suffering and so on. Not bitterness, vitriol, nastiness.
My poor old lemon had seen better days. It had lost the oil in its skin, so had gone hard and discoloured. It suffered the knife and the juicer, but it rendered what it contained, still good within. The olives gave up their best oil readily, with just a little bruising and bashing from the pestle. That oil would serve God, bringing pure light where it was needed in the place where people could meet with him.
God has promised never to push us beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) he will never completely crush us. So when the pressure is on, let’s allow the Holy Spirit full control, to show what we are made of. He will give us the grace we need, let’s hold nothing back, but willingly allow him to use us and do his work in us.
The world gives us all a bit of bashing around. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t had to struggle one way or another. Some of us will get a bit wrinkled and lacklustre. That’s life. But what we have filled ourselves with is what will come out when the pressure is on. So keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit. Emptied of the rubbish, and full of him.