Right after college several of us former “good basketball players” ended up back in Sumter. Our friend and then highly successful State Champion coach, Byron Kinney, arranged for us to scrimmage his Sumter High team weekly in the off season.
We would win often, so our egos, already inflated and always eager for more, led us to think “We still got it.” But after a while we noticed we won easily when we had college star Wilbert Singleton playing with us, but struggled mightily, often losing without him.
With Wilbert: power. Without Wilbert: up and down, sometimes good and often not so good.
Our will to play well and succeed had not changed, only our power source to do so.
Jesus said “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you …”1, and Paul writes about “… the incomparably great power for us who believe.”2 But I don’t see this power evident in most followers of Jesus. As a matter of fact I see powerless lives all around me.
Jesus even said we would do greater things than he did with this power from the Holy Spirit.3
We are trying to live our lives with and within our own power. We are can-do Americans and boy are we busy trying to get it all done … in our own power. Our power source may be will-power, or self-discipline, it may be fear, or pride and ego, or even exercise, alcohol or caffeine, but they are leaving us with the C- life, and we are exhausted.
But there is a better way. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you, and you will bear much fruit.”4 This is what God is saying through Paul when he proclaims, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”5
We must remain close to the only sustaining, ever-renewable power source.
Years ago in the renovation business, we had a project with a house with four stories. I smartly set up a bank of multiple power outlets in the basement for my carpenters. They started on the top floor and quickly called me in to complain about the lack of power. I was incredulous, pointing out all the outlets at their ready disposal.
They grimaced and said they were so far from the power source the power was drained off through the extension cords and their power saws had insufficient power, and were in danger of burning out their motors.
Not so smart.
And so it is with us. We are either trying to do it all in our own power, or we have drifted too far away from our Power Source, and our motors are burning out.
It is easier to serve God than to get to know him. And “people who don’t get to know God usually do too much or the wrong thing, or the right thing the wrong way.”6
The solution is found in God’s word:
“ … —continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” 7 Bold added
God is saying to us: “You get with it and get on it, but relax and don’t strain, and don’t drain yourself.” It’s not a passive, “I’ll pray about it and wait for you to do it God.” And it’s not an aggressive “If I don’t it won’t …” approach, either.
Instead it’s an empowering “unforced rhythms of grace,” available only to the surrendered follower of Jesus, who is learning to “live freely and lightly”8 within the “incomparably great power for us who believe.”2
May you leave your exhausting and power-draining can-do world of “If I don’t it won’t,” and learn to feel the power of an Almighty God, and his Spirit, working with you and through you.
If You Want a Little More:
Philippians 2:12: You continue to work, but know it is Godwho is ready and willing to do the heavy lifting for you, and with you. We might look at this word from God and in our mind try to determine just what part we play and what part God plays, but this is missing the relationship of the Holy Spirit within the Believer.
It is not like two men each doing their part, possibly even one contributing more. Those who have the Holy Spirit are part of a symbiotic relationship in which it is impossible to know what part they are contributing, and what God is doing. (That is until you walk with him awhile, and start to clearly see you are doing the manual labor, and God is providing the star power.)
Jesus invites us to “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Jesus The Message translation