Job 37:23 The Almighty- we cannot find Him, He is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness He will not violate.
If hard drives were expressed by rooms in a home or shelves of books, I would have a room in my home devoted to things I have started but never finished. Some would say, “Such is the lot of a dreamer.” Others would say, “You are brilliant at starting things, but horrible at finishing or executing them.” I can remember starting many of them and saying to myself, “I don’t know how I am going to actually do this, I will place this here and when I am inspired to continue it, I will pick it back up.” For some of these ideas, ten years have passed, and I barely remember the idea I had until I open the file and look everything over. Left with nothing more than glimpses of memories of what I was thinking when I sat down to write. I have lived thirty-seven years and many of the things I was told as advice have proven true. Some, not so much. Some things, people will offer advice on and their advice is shallow, depressing and meaningless. I was sitting here thinking about conversations I have recently had with friends about something they should do and in many cases, we did not disagree about what they should do, as much as their understanding of how they would do it or achieve it. Which I can relate very well with. After all, I have a hard drive of unfinished work. I know what it looks like to ask yourself how you will accomplish something, fear the unknown and then seal it away in a vault; even if my friends are sealing their “I should…” in the vaults of their minds.
Many of us try to live life in our own power. We try to communicate to our loved ones in our own power. We try to love other people in our own power. We try to raise our children in our own power. We try to work hard in our own power. We try to save money in our own power. We try to be kind in our own power.
In 2005, when my church home closed the Youth Department and laid me off, my power was insufficient. In 2006, after finally getting another job, when I missed my first son’s first steps, my power was insufficient. In 2008, when, financially, I had my most profitable year but was five thousand dollars behind on rent, (as a family of four) and constantly feared my family would be homeless, my power was insufficient. During this time, people knew many of the causes of our predicaments. They could see them. They knew intellectually that I was and had been a poor steward of my finances, but no one that said they loved me, or my family for that matter took the time or the effort to show me how to manage my finances better. My situation was not their fault. I am not writing any of this to seek pity from you or anyone else. I harbor no ill feelings toward those who potentially could have assisted me or my family in these times. I am writing this to someone who is reading this and feels like no matter what they do, no matter where they turn, all they see are closed doors, closed windows and the blinds seem to be shutting out all the light from the outside. I know exactly how you feel. I know what it feels like to be powerless.
I know what it feels like to seek answers and seemingly receive only silence. Sometimes, silence is where answers are found.
When you are left alone, in your own mind and you feel powerless, you will do what you are used to doing. Some people play video games and escape reality, I know I have tried it. Some people find solace in altering their state of consciousness, I know I have friends that have tried it. Some people surround themselves with other people, so they can simply be lost in a crowd and for a moment feel connected to something and get out of their mind, I know I have friends that tried it. Some people, turn on the TV and hope that while they switch the channels, they will turn on a channel and hear some profound wisdom by someone on the tv who will give them the golden truth that will fix all their problems, and everything will go back to normal. From psychologists, tele-evangelists, proclaimed self-help experts even medication prescribed or otherwise, people will try anything to feel less powerless or more empowered.
Recently, I was looking over my life since 2015, about two years. A lot has changed for me in two years. I have had jobs which I have loved and lost. People lose jobs because of many reasons. Why is it that now of all times, I can tell people, “No.”? What has changed that I am able to stick to the choices that I have made and when it seems to get hard, rather than abandon the idea or try something new, I double down? Where did this perseverance come from? I think I have found an answer.
I used to do things in my power. Over the last ten years of my life, however, I have come to realize it is not my power.
Many people aren’t going to understand this until they experience it. That is ok, we are all on a journey we call our lives. I still want to encourage someone because just maybe you can identify this, start thinking this way and maybe, just maybe I can preserve someone else from the pain I had to go through to arrive here. If even one person investigates what I am about to explain, and it helps them, then this will be worth it.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have learned how to rest. When I am powerless, when I feel helpless, I run to God. I get alone with God. I cry. I say how I am feeling. I wait.
My wife can account how many times in the last two years she will come out of the bedroom and find me asleep on my knees in front of the couch, a chair, on the floor. Asleep. Because I hit my knees in prayer, prayed long, prayed hard and I went to sleep in the presence of God.
One day I was having a conversation with a friend about the Lord’s Prayer and he made a profound comment that in the prayer we ask, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are asking God to forgive us based on our forgiveness or lack of forgiveness of other people. While on my knees, I realized that we are not only asking God to forgive us based on how we forgive other people but also that “His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Affirming everything else we say in the prayer, not only what we are asking but that He make so here just as He made it so there.
Do we believe God is powerful? Do we believe He is merciful? Do we believe He forgives? Do we believe He loves?
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
We believe that Jesus Christ voluntarily accepted the limitations of a human being, his glory remained hidden from the people behind or beneath his mortal flesh and gave up the independent use of His relative attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, immutability, etc.) So how come this verse does not impact us as much as it should:
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34)
Jesus, on the cross, did not forgive his accusers in His own power. Rather, Jesus deferred to the One with the power. God the Father. He realized, in that moment as many of us do, that he was “powerless” in that moment. I am not trying to argue whether Jesus had power or not. It is in the understanding of the people observing where the power is attributed to. He wanted to ensure that in every moment people realized that the power he used was the power of God and while He did say He was God, He knew it was hard for people to understand what that meant when people were looking at Him and saw a man. In every case where Jesus used power, He affirmed it originated with God.
Jesus did not forgive us when we were presentable and cleaned ourselves up first. He did not make us go and do better and think about what we had done and then forgive us. He loved us and forgave us while we were enemies of God. That is the manner whereby God exercised His great power to forgive.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.(Colossians 1: 21,22)
By what power do you love people? By what power do you forgive? By what power do you impart kindness? By what power are you merciful?
When you are powerless, when you are weak, when you feel like you cannot go on, when you feel defeated, rest in the power offered to you at the Cross. Just as Jesus deferred to the forgiveness of the Father. Defer to Jesus. I have a friend right now who believes it is too hard to forgive someone, my answer is stop trying to forgive them in your own power. I know others saying, “I cannot love someone who wishes ill of me,” I say, “Stop trying to love them in your own power.” To remember that while you were still an enemy God loved you, forgave you, was merciful to you, was kind to you. These things you understand, better than anyone else. You know all the choices you make. You know the true depth of the wickedness of your heart and therefore, you know what it means for God to do those things for you before you were thankful, before you were even knowledgeable of what He had done for you.
Next time you are challenged to love someone, show mercy to someone, be kind to someone or forgive someone, remember how Jesus did those things for you. He asked for God the Father to do it through Him. Make sure that when you do you are clear that it is not you. The reason you are able is because of God:
By what power do you love? By the power of Christ’s love that was shown to you; by what power do you show mercy? By the power of Christ’s showing you mercy; by what power are you imparting kindness? By the power of Christ’s imparting kindness toward you; by what power do you forgive? By the power of Christ’s forgiveness of your offenses. It is the power of God.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)