PUSH AND PULL
Photo source: Used by permission.
I heard someone use this phrase the other day and I thought how helpful it was. We need both a push and a pull to help us navigate, stay focussed and have the energy to pursue the dreams, callings and tasks that we feel are God-given.
I also watched a ewe (is that ‘a ewe’ or ‘an ewe’?) give birth to this black lamb this week – and saw the push and pull in action. Mother and child are doing well, by the way…
And I have been thinking of the journey of Jesus – geographically to Jerusalem and also towards his own destiny which was dreadful and wonderful all at once. On a number of occasions, the writer Luke describes Jesus as focussed on travelling towards the Holy City.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
This is probably Luke showing us how Jesus fulfils the prophecy in Isaiah 50: 5
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
This is the push. The push towards a goal. The force of the prophetic word of God, the awareness of timing, the inevitable nature of a deep sense of call.
Sometimes the push comes from us – deep down we know we have to push on through and find the force to fulfil righteousness in our lives. Sometimes it comes from external forces – others pushing us on or even out – so we make a move of some sort. Jonah was pushed out of a boat, because he really didn’t want to push himself to fulfil prophecy. Jesus was pushed by the zealots around him and also by those who betrayed him, but the main force of this push came from his own conviction to trust and obey.
The pull is the pull of hope and joy, of care and faith. The pull of the shepherd in this image is to help the ewe with a lamb’s stuck leg. The shepherd has compassion, belief and expertise to enable all the push to come to fruition.
The pull for Jesus is described by the writer to the Hebrews:For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2). This was the pull of glory, or delight and joy. The pull of success and significance. The pull of salvation, overcoming of death and a new kingdom of peace. It was as much this pull as it was the push that enabled Jesus to face the cross. He was obedient but he was also hopeful, and 'hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ (Romans 5:5). The pull for us can be a new start, a reward, an opportunity, the fulfilment of a dream. In these winter months we push through, haul ourselves out of bed on a cold wet morning, feel the press of the obligation at our back – from colleagues, family or our own conscience; but then we have hope in Spring, sunny days, a holiday we have booked. We are pulled through life by exciting opportunities that are on our calendar.
Of course, at the moment our journey is a struggle. We find it hard to push because there is a tiredness and a deep sadness. And there is very little pull, since we don’t have holidays booked and find it hard to see when things might change for the better.
Nevertheless, it is good to look for the push and pull. What is pushing at the moment in your life? What needs to get sorted? What is not fitting properly? Where is the aggravation and the holy discontent? What is the call on your life and the word of God that you know deep down you want to fulfil? There are forces here which, when we are spiritually aware, we can harness in order to get us moving, even towards goals or circumstances that have some dread, unease and even pain in them.
And what is pulling you on? Do you have the vision of Jesus of a kingdom above, beyond and deeper than this current season? Have you squashed dreams because of the pandemic? How can you unearth them again? Where is the Holy Spirit calling to you from? Can you see and hear a destiny and way of being that is free, satisfied and peace filled?
Here are the verses in Hebrews – both the push and the pull:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Martin J Young