‘The Pressure’s Off’ Impact
Fellow seeker, will you dare to imagine what for so
long you’ve feared may not be available?
Will you join me, a trembling pilgrim, in putting
aside the cynicism that skillfully avoids the risk of hoping?
Will you embrace your desire for the thing you
would give all else to gain – an actual encounter
with Jesus Christ, now, before heaven?
-Larry Crabb “The Pressure’s Off”
What did Larry Crabb bring to the “Christian” table? Why did his life have such profound impact on so many? These are some of the many questions I have asked myself since Dad finished his race and went home to glory a few months ago.
Of the many Crabb books, my favorite is The Pressure’s Off. I’ve read it several times. And like many of Crabb’s titles, it takes a few reads for the message to take hold. Perhaps it was the timing of when I read The Pressure’s Off that had such paradigm shifting impact. It was during my first time attending Dr. Crabb’s School of Spiritual Direction (SSD) when this book began changing the way I was thinking. Larry opens this book by talking about the two paths – the Old Way and the New Way. Crabb says, “Either you’ve decided that what you most want out of life is within your reach, and you’re doing whatever you believe it takes to get it (the OLD WAY) OR you’ve realized that what you most want is beyond your reach, and you’re trusting God for the satisfaction you seek. You want Him. Nothing less, not even His blessings, will do” (the NEW WAY).
The more you cling to the OLD WAY, the more you realize how little control we really have – Almost a year ago my wife of 26 years was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A close friend said to me, “I can think of no one who is less deserving of this disease”. She’s never smoked, ate a healthy diet, and exercised regularly. If we were living in the Old Way I’d ask, “What did we do to deserve this God? Why are You doing this to us now?”
BUT – we have hope! Hope that this is not our home, since we’re built for another world. Living in the New Way gives us freedom and liberty – as we realize that the pressure really is off. To have an eternal perspective gives us the strength to withstand this life’s trials and the endurance to stay on the New Way path that leads to life.
So, what did Larry bring to the “Christian” table? I think a willingness to ask hard questions of God, himself and others. He gave us an example of what a struggling, stumbling, servant of Jesus looks like. Why did his life have so much impact? My father realized that he could do nothing on his own. He left the heavy lifting for the Holy Spirit. With Larry the pressure was off, as he gave us a look into his interior world as he put Jesus on display by how he loved and related to people.
None of us get it right all the time. That’s why the Old Way doesn’t work. We can’t keep up our part of the deal. All of us will at some point experience the “hardness” of life. When life’s circumstances punch you in the stomach, it’s important to realize that the sacrifice Jesus made for us gives us hope for heaven, and allows us to sustain now in the midst of a fallen world. Dad would often say, “Release what’s deepest in you and, if you’re a Christian, you will present yourself to Jesus as you are and where you are with no pressure, just a desire to glorify Him with your life.
Continue to wrestle with the hard questions that this life throws at you and enjoy The Pressure’s Off.