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The Perfect Expresso

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-13 (NIV)

Most days I assemble with the coffee community in my locale for my beloved beverage, an Americano.  Walking in, you are embraced by the robust smell of coffee in the air, dim lighting and familiar hipster décor.  Perusing the menu, you soon find that there is a flavour for everyone, a style for every lifestyle.  High on the list of popularity in Europe is the espresso.  An espresso is made in a machine which ‘presses’ steam ‘outwards’ through tightly packed dark roasted coffee beans.

We talk of expressing juice from grapes or expressing milk from cows.  We talk about expressing an opinion where we verbalise the thoughts which press through our brains and become vocal through our mouths.  ‘Express’ has now also come to mean ‘for one particular purpose’.  For example, a letter can be sent by express delivery.  An express train avoids irrelevant stops and takes you expressly to your particular destination.  The express lane in the supermarket checkout allows you to a speedy exit.

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, He told them that he too had one particular purpose and he was pressing on to achieve it. “But one thing I do.” he said.  “I press on toward the goal.”  Wrapped up in the word “press” (dioko) is the idea of pressure.  Occurring three times in Philippians 3:4-14, it means ‘to follow’, ‘to pursue’, suggesting impassioned pursuit, earnestness and diligence.

In the 1992 Olympic games held in Barcelona, one of the greatest candidates for the gold medal in the 400-metre run was British athlete Derek Redmond.  However, early in the race his dreams were shattered when he felt his hamstring go.  Instead of stopping, he began to hobble around the rest of the track, determined to finish.  Limping painfully down the course, he remained intent on finishing the race, no matter how long it took.  As the other runners sped by a figure pushed his way out of the stands and onto the track.  Redmond’s father put his arm around him, lifted his son’s arm over his shoulder, and helped him to finish the race.  The image of father and son crossing the finishing line became a defining one for the 1992 Olympics.  For us it is a marvellous illustration of God’s enormous mercy and grace when failure or brokenness besets us on the path toward our goal.  If we will just stay on track, we can go the distance, because we have a heavenly Father who will come, put His arms around us, undergird us and see us through to the end.  When the pressure is on, press on!