Winepress of Love

2 Chronicles 20:3 “Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord.”

Observation: What a godly response to fear and stress! The nation of Judah was about to be attacked by foreign enemies. When Jehoshaphat heard of the gathering threat, his natural response was to be fearful. The enemy was looming, and he knew the enemy well enough to be appropriately intimidated and fearful. 

But then he had a second response, an unnatural response: he “turned his attention to seek the Lord.”

Application: Why is this an unnatural response? Because my tendency is to be self-reliant—to think that I can, I must, fight my own battles. So, to turn to God for His help is a cultivated response, a learned behavior. It requires great discipline that can only come from faith and experience, by repeated exposure to battles that I cannot win on my own.

God loves me enough, and is passionate enough in seeking relationship with me, that He will repeatedly expose me to trials to test my responses. His greatest desire is that I would eventually learn to surrender my own lousy capabilities and to rely instead upon His limitless ones. 

Upon honest reflection, I must ask whether I will ever fully learn that lesson no matter how many tight spots the Lord graciously arranges. But I should make no mistake: He is on my side. He is for me. He has me…each of us… in a winepress intended to mold us into men and women who would choose godly responses, who would commit to His priorities for our lives regardless of the apparent strength and capabilities of our enemy.

What does that enemy look like? I should put away the notion of pitchforks and dragon tails, substituting instead the much more realistic picture of my inherent tendency to pursue the good rather than the best. What I view as opportunity is often temptation disguised, temptation designed to test what my heart truly values: wholehearted pursuit of Him, or a panting chase after this world’s acclaim and rewards.

Prayer: Lord, Your word says You have conquered even death, which is the last enemy. Cause the truth of this to sink deep into my spirit so I don’t faint in fear the next time a familiar enemy looms on my horizon. Give me profound understanding of all that You have done in my behalf. Let the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ so flood my mind, will, and emotions that there is room for nothing else within me except praise to Him. I love You, Lord, and am grateful for the things You have taught me. Thank You for Your winepress of love.

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