The Pressure’s Off

“Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.” — Henri Nouwen

The pressure to live well isn’t on me or you. Jesus did it all and He lives in us. Grace works as we yield to Him, living in and through us.

Religion says, Do … achieve … earn your validation … justify your very existence the pressure is on you to perform...

Jesus says, Done … accepted … validated … justified … the pressure's off!

The daily lot of those driven by religion is striving, anxiety and, ultimately, exhaustion and burn out. The inheritance of the child of God led by Christ’s grace is freedom, joy and peace.

Those who fall back on self-reliance and their own resourcefulness to navigate life, who have taken on the principles of the world, unwittingly or otherwise, will know the daily pressure to perform and be dogged by a constant sense of failing to reach an acceptable standard. For those who are dead to self, humbled and dependent, the pressure is off. Yet we so easily succumb to the trap of trying to resume control of our lives. Author Larry Crabb expresses it well:

“We need to yield control over what happens in our lives and trust God to do whatever He thinks best … until we develop a taste for God we prefer a better life of blessings from God over a better hope of intimacy with Him … we prefer control over trust … you were saved by grace and you’ll grow by grace … the law imposed the intolerable pressure to live perfectly in order to live well. You now stand in the Law of Liberty. Stand tall. Live as free men and women.”

When praying and reflecting upon His ministry in John 17, Jesus said to His Father “You have given me…” twelve times. Jesus’ humble dependence upon His Father is stunning and freeing at the same time. It reminds us that all we receive, we receive only by God’s grace.


We live to play a role in God’s story, not He in ours. He is God, we are not. He is central, we are peripheral. It’s all about Him, not about us. There is freedom in this truth. The pressure is off!

This article is an extract from 

God Hunger: Meditations from a life of longing









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