The Wonder of Powerlessness

Human pride draws us into visions of our own grandeur and ideas of our own ability to make things happen. We like the idea that we can learn a skill, make a deal, figure things out or otherwise see things turn out the way we want them to go, by some innate capacity of our own.

The Bible repeatedly deals with our pride and calls us to humility, such as reminding us that we don’t have anything we did not receive, so we don’t have room for personal boasting.

“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1Corinthians 4:7

“As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10

I recall many years ago that it became popular to preach about the ‘keys of the Kingdom’, such as Jesus promised to His disciples.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 16:19

However it quickly became apparent that people liked the idea of holding keys in their own hands, as if that empowered them to do things or get things done at their will. People were looking for personal empowerment, rather than dependence on God.

I want to extol to you the wonder of powerlessness and the importance of catching it and living in the wonder of needing God to be our champion in every situation.

USA President Donald Trump rallied American people with the call to ‘make America great again’. That was a call that resonated with many people. Yet it is a notion that inherently sees human capacity and power at its heart. The suggestion is that the people can make America great.

The question Americans might have to think through is whether it was the people who made America great in the past, or the blessing and grace of God. If the people have abandoned God by and large, then they will be trying to repeat what God did, without God’s help.

Powerlessness stops us thinking we have the power, or the keys, or the resources to achieve anything, and it makes us humbly rely on God and call on Him for answers, solutions and blessings.

While most Australian’s don’t seem to care about such things, it is wonderful to note that the Australian Constitution includes the words ‘humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God’.

Powerlessness, then, is wonderful. It enables us to rise far above what we can achieve by ourselves and allows us to experience things that only God can do.

Of myself I can do nothing. I don’t seek to develop my own power base. I don’t try to become powerful. Instead I strive to remind myself to rely on God and to look to Him, not myself.

Here’s a silly simple example. Over recent years I have enjoyed buying food bargains on a daily basis. It’s been a bit of a sport to me, hunting the bargains just for the fun of it.

Several stores clear out perishable foods each day and, under the right circumstances, I can often buy food at greatly reduced prices.

In some stores I developed very good working relationships with the staff and found it easy to get good discounts. Then my contact would be moved on and someone else put in their place who might not be so happy to give me favourable discounts. Several times I was warned that my bargains would dry up. Rather than get anxious about that I learned to remain relaxed, thanking God for the bargains I have been able to enjoy, even if I never get such bargains again.

Each time there has been a change or upheaval I have found a fresh connection, new store, or other development that provided me with continued bargain hunting fun, and some good discounts.

I recognise I am powerless to control the connections. I often enough encounter people who are determined to not give discounts. Yet, time and time again God allows me to find a fresh connection or situation that provides discounts again.

So I enjoy being powerless. I enjoy not having to make it happen.

Similarly, I recall a young lady in my church many years ago who told how she had learned to commit each new day to God. When she began doing that she found things working out nicely each day. Then one day she didn’t bother, or maybe forgot to commit the day to God and it turned out to be a rather messed up day. She assured me she would always remember to commit her days to God, since things always went much better when He was in control.

Have you practiced being powerless? Do you know how to admit you can’t do anything useful of yourself? Do you readily tell God how much you depend on Him and His blessing? I do those things regularly. It’s a whole lot less demanding than being clever and in control.

A year or so ago a chap who began attending my church began to tell me how clever I was and how well I planned things in advance. He mistakenly thought that things working out so well and coming together so effectively had to be a result of my cleverness and planning. I assured him my successes were God’s doing, not mine, but he didn’t believe me.

It’s nice that others can see the fruit of my reliance on God and my powerlessness, even if they don’t believe it.

So let me encourage you to let your powerlessness shine through. Get good at admitting it and relying on God to do for you and through you what you are powerless to do on your own. It’s so much fun to see God work things out, even in small and insignificant ways, when we commit to trusting only in Him. My prayer is that you quickly learn to enjoy the Wonder of Powerlessness.

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