Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Access to Power

“See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh . . .” (Exodus 7:1)

A few summers ago, eagerly anticipating a week at the beach, Marnie decided that she would help us get ready for our Monday morning departure by cutting our unruly front lawn. I normally do this, but on this particular Saturday I had two weddings. Our excitement over the vacation caused a gush of goodwill in my wife. I didn’t argue. In fact her generous offer actually made me thankful for having two weddings on a perfectly good summer Saturday.

When I returned home that evening the yard was cut. “That was harder than I thought it would be” said my wife, giving me a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that her admiration and appreciation for me had certainly been raised. “How’d you like that automatic front wheel drive” I asked. She looked at me with that blank does-not-compute kind of look. “What are you talking about” she asked. “You know – the front wheel drive. You pull the lever under the mower handle and it propels the mower forward automatically.”

That revelation instantly dissolved any new appreciation for me that my wife had gained from the experience of mowing the lawn. She had not discovered the automatic drive. She had not even been aware that such a feature existed on our mower. She had done a good job, but she had done it by expending enormous effort, pushing and pulling, back and forth. She had done the job – but she had done it without ever touching a source of great help and power that was literally at her fingertips.

There are days – more than I care to admit – when I sense that I’m doing my life the same way. I’m getting the job done, but I don’t sense that I’m doing it with power. This is puzzling to me. After all, Jesus told his followers that they would receive power for the work of bearing witness in the world. What does that look like today? When the woman with an issue of blood touched Jesus’ garment, Jesus sensed that power had gone out from him. I know what it feels like for energy to go out from me. I know what it feels like to put forth hard work and effort – but power? What is that like?

Moses reminds us that there is a power available to us that is received as gift, not obtained as an achievement. The power we most easily notice, the power we most often pursue, is the kind that comes with possessions and position. It is the power of wealth and status. That’s the power Pharaoh had. Moses had a different kind of power – a power not his own. At the risk of oversimplifying, Moses had the kind of power that comes when you’re standing in the center of God’s purposes in the world. That’s a power that you have access to today.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power in through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-17).

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