Monday, August 1, 2011

Lord, Show Your Power!

A few days ago I was reading First Corinthians and I was struck by something in a new way. Paul opens chapter 2 with these words:
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.”
-1st Corinthians 2:1-5

As I read this, many questions started swirling around in my head. How many times have I prayed that God would give me just the right words? How many hours have I spent planning out exactly what I would say before I speak to a church in the US or a group of women here in Bissau? How many days have I spent praying that God would give me the clearest, most impactful words to share the gospel with a friend of family member?

All of that is certainly part of it, but if that's all I do to prepare, then I've missed the point entirely. Paul doesn't want the faith of the people to rest on man's wisdom. Why? Because it's insufficient. I don't want the message that God gives me to rest on my eloquence. Why? Because it's not enough. People's lives are not going to be changed by the Gospel unless the Holy Spirit comes with power. If I want to see lives transformed, I need to spend far less time searching for the perfect simile and far more time on my knees before an almighty God.

I was thinking about this when I gave Savannah her bath last night. Just this past week she's started to make the transition from playing in the water to playing with the water. While I was sitting next to the tub, she abandoned the rubber ducky that she had been vigorously squeaking between her gums, and decided that it was about time to check out this wet stuff she was surrounded by. She stared at the water carefully, leaned her head all the way to the side a few times, opened her hands and prepared herself. Then, slap, her arms sprang into action like a pouncing lion and her hands smacked each other as the water evaded her grasp. With a confused look on her face she tried again and again and again with the same lack of success.

What Savannah doesn't know is that you can't grab the water the same way that you grab a ball or a doll. It's not something you can pick up and turn around and examine from every angle like her toys. What we forget, is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn't reducible to a scripted sales pitch. The life changing power of the Holy Spirit, like the water in Savannah's bath, isn't something that can be grasped with my hand and controlled. No matter how long I stare at the words I want to say, carefully crafting them into the message I want to deliver; no matter how enthusiastic and ready I am; no matter how much I want to make an impact; like Savannah, I end up with a handful of nothing if I'm doing it on my own.


Jason and Erica said...

Thank you for sharing that. It's SO true. I feel like God's been speaking the same thing to us lately in different ways as well. It's SO key! We're off to go call some supporters and will be spending some quality time in prayer beforehand.