Addressing a Power Failure

Having fewer things to worry about is always a good thing, so let me suggest at least one. For most of us, having a flat tire on our car is less likely these days than it would have been a few decades ago. It’s one of the many blessings we enjoy but rarely think about. No doubt, multitudes  of folks are zipping around our highways who have never changed a tire in their lives. Many of whom might be clueless about how to deal with it unless they could pull up a YouTube video on their phone. But knowing what to do is only part of solving the problem. A flat tire isn’t a complex problem, and it’s relatively easy to solve, but if you don’t have the tools you need, it’s another matter. 

An Enlightening Picture ~
Picture, for instance, my wife and I having a flat on a lonely road with no tools available. After analyzing the situation, suppose I said to the sweetest, most ready-to-help person I ever knew, “Honey, would you give me a hand for a minute?” She’d say, “Sure. What can I do?” Then if I said, “We’re missing a tool, and I just need you to hold this side of the car up long enough for me to put the spare tire on.” She might smile and give me one of those special looks reserved for moments crying out for a response you can’t wait to tell your friends about. Then she might say something like, “Glad to, Honey–just hang on while I walk over to the woods and develop the upper body strength of a 900-pound gorilla. And while I’m working on that, take a look through my purse and get that bottle of extra-strength ‘Anti-Idiot’ pills I brought along in case you had another attack like this. You may wanna take about four of those.” 

Power to do things we can’t do alone is as commonplace in our culture as the jack secured somewhere in our car. More people have more access to more power in America today than any nation on earth has ever enjoyed. In most cases, we’re so used to the availability of incredible power that we don’tpower.9 consciously appreciate or even notice it until it’s gone and we’re confronted with our own weaknesses and limitations. Our vulnerability becomes real and personal, for instance, if the engine in our car suddenly dies on a lonely road far from home with no cell phone signal. Even in less threatening situations, it’s more often the absence of power, not the presence of it, that prompts us to consider its value. 

A Compelling Contrast ~
But the issue that concerns me today is not our failure to recognize our vulnerability and dependence on power beyond ourselves in the physical world around us, it’s the contrast in our response when confronted with the same principle in the spiritual realm. If we readily recognize that we can be reduced to abject helplessness when power sources fail in this natural world, wouldn’t it make sense that the same rationale would apply in the spiritual realm as well? If we recognize that we can’t do a simple thing like lift a car to change a tire without a jack, shouldn’t the same principle be operative when we’re faced with moral failures and spiritual dilemmas weightier than human scales can measure? 

We know to look in the trunk for a jack if a tire goes flat. If a receptacle in our house stops working, we know to check the breaker box. Why is it, then, that when policies and practices are forced upon us that power.2violate basic spiritual principles and moral guidelines, we seem to think that human strength and ingenuity alone can fix it? If a light bulb burns out, we probably don’t anoint it with oil and pray for it to be healed. Neither do we tear out the page in the Bible where Jesus said we’re the “light of the world,” and then stuff it into the socket and command it to illuminate the room. Attempting to solve spiritual problems by applying human efforts alone is just that ridiculous, not to mention futile.

Welcomed with a Challenge ~
There’s an incident in Jesus’ ministry that highlights this simple but vital principle. When Jesus, along with James and John, returned from the high mountain where the “transfiguration” took place, there was a crowd waiting. Jesus was met by a distraught father who made an impassioned request and gave a troubling report: 

“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. (Matthew 17:15–18 NKJV)

Jesus’ disciples were confronted with a situation where the symptoms were physical, but the source of the problem was not. There was clear evidence of demonic activity at work which made it a spiritual issue. In Jesus’ absence, the disciples endeavored to do what they could. No doubt they replicated what they had seen Him do, but their efforts were ineffective. But then Jesus showed up and everything changed. He asked that the boy be brought to Him. The demon was expelled, the boy was delivered, and the problem was solved. The story had a successful and happy ending, but Jesus wasn’t happy. 

Hold the Applause ~
Rather than applaud their attempts, Jesus rebuked them. His reprimand had nothing to do with the procedures they used or any rituals they employed. Their failure was not due to poor performance onpower.3 their part. It was because of their lack of faith,. The faith that was missing in them was the kind of faith that would have made His physical presence unnecessary. Without that kind of faith, their powerlessness would continue on after He was physically gone from them. 

The key to that kind of faith begins by recognizing that the power to overcome spiritual obstacles does not originate in us. Jesus clearly stated that fact on another occasion when He said to them, Without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5). When confronted with problems that have spiritual causes, recognizing the truth of Jesus’ words is absolutely vital, but like many other spiritual truths, it’s easier to mentally acknowledge than to actively apply. 

Impotence is hard for us arrogant humans to accept. Powerlessness is frightening. We recoil at feeling helpless and avoid it every way we can. But if we’re ever to see victory over the violence, hatred, and chaotic anarchy convulsing our nation, a power source greater than any of us must be applied. Even on a personal level, if we’re to be freed from some obsessive evil that might be gripping our own hearts, the same thing is true. The first step in engaging in spiritual warfare is to admit that we cannot defeat the enemy on our own. Spiritual victories are not won with human efforts, human devices, human political strategies, or by embracing some iconic human leader. The evil behind the paranoia, confusion, depression, rage, and grief confronting us is spiritual, and it will only respond to spiritual power that is greater than human anatomy and physiology can produce. 

Don’t Get Confused ~
If we don’t act, the land we once knew won’t survive – but there are two realms in play, and we mustn’t get them confused. If we wouldn’t anoint a burned out light bulb with oil and pray for its healing, neither should we look at the crumbling moral framework of our nation and think we can fix it with a political monkey wrench or worn out religious platitudes. 

We may not have been confronted with anguished fathers and their demon-possessed children like the disciples did back then, but we have faced an array of spiritual foes, and we have failed miserably in our power.1efforts to deal with them. It might seem as though, like the disciples back then, we’ve been struggling on our own and that the One with the power has been missing. But the truth is that the power they thought was missing wasn’t missing at all. It was waiting on the other side of their own surrender. 

Jesus had already proven through other situations that His power didn’t require His physical presence at all (cp. Luke 7:1-13). And the disciples didn’t need His physical presence to heal the demon-possessed boy. What they needed was the faith that abandons selfish pride and declares absolute dependence on Jesus. That would have brought His power into the situation even without His physical presence. 

That’s the kind of faith Jesus wanted them to have, and it’s the kind that He wants us to have today. He said that a tiny bit of faith that surrenders totally to Him can move mountains, dispatch demons, restore broken lives, and rebuild crumbling nations. It isn’t complicated, but car jacks aren’t complicated either – and they can lift . . . a lot.


“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below.  Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .

    • “If we’re ever to see victory over the violence, hatred, and chaotic anarchy convulsing our nation, a power source greater than any of us must be applied.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet) 
    • “The first step in engaging in spiritual warfare is to admit that we cannot defeat the enemy on our own. Spiritual victories are not won with human efforts, human devices, human political strategies, or by embracing some iconic human leader.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
    • “The evil behind the paranoia, confusion, depression, rage, and grief confronting us is spiritual, and it will only respond to spiritual power that is greater than human anatomy and physiology can produce.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet) 
    • “If we don’t act, the land we once knew won’t survive. We shouldn’t look at the crumbling moral framework of our nation and think we can fix it with a political monkey wrench or worn out religious platitudes.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet) 
    • “It may seem as though, like the disciples, we’ve been struggling on our own & that the One with the power is missing. But the power they thought was missing wasn’t missing at all. It was waiting on the other side of their own surrender.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)  

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World" For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
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6 Responses to Addressing a Power Failure

  1. Jason says:

    Words we as Christians need to hear. Only Jesus can save this crazy world we live in.

    Like

    • Thanks, Jason– We all want to see a resurgence of righteousness in this country, and agree that Jesus Christ is our only hope of that ever happening. Unfortunately, admitting our powerlessness and total dependence goes against our nature. It feels like weakness, like we’re giving up and surrendering to the enemy, and that’s another trick the devil pulls on us. In abandoning our self confidence, we’re giving up, of course, but not to the enemy. We’re admitting we’re in a battle we cannot win on our own, and that we’re offering all we have for Him to employ as He pleases. The idea that victory depends on our initial surrender sounds paradoxical, and it is, but it’s our only hope. May God continue to use what you and the family have committed to Him.

      Like

  2. JD Wininger says:

    Lots of truths in this post sir; and I’m glad to see your Ms. Diane keeps an ample supply of extra strength “Anti-Idiot” pills on hand. Mine buys the large bottles. Often! As for today’s lesson, you cannot be more right on sir. God has walked you onto the target. You have the problem bracketed. Fire for effect my friend! I’ve long believed that a lack of true faith exists in the church today. Not because there aren’t any “good Christian people” left in churches, but because like much of the world, the church has taken on more worldliness than we should. We somehow were convinced that we must be accepting of the world’s sinful ways if we have any chance of showing them our watered-down version of God. Yes, we are to love our neighbors, and this sin-filled world is our current neighbor. That doesn’t mean we have to become like them, and accept their sinful lifestyles. Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not suggesting that we shun the sinful and keep them out of our churches. Instead, we need to invite them in with open arms, and we need to show them true Christianity and not the watered-down, physically based version we want to pass off today. The remnant of Christ’s true church needs to find the strength and courage to stand up and take back the moral high ground that our Judeo-Christian religion is based upon. We need to ask God in faith to give us the power to reverse the trend in so many Christian churches today and focus more on developing and living our lives with real faith front and center in our lives instead of something we attempt to put on every Sunday morning for two hours. My friend, if we wallow around in the pigsty of this world all week, and then come to church Sunday morning with a clean shirt and a sport coat, we still smell like the pigsty to God. You are so right sir. We cannot correct the spiritual tailspin this world is in with human ways. We MUST call upon the all-powerful creator God to empower us. Maybe we should offer some of those pills to many church-goers; it might help them too to come to their senses. God’s blessings Mr. Ron! Powerful words my friend.

    Like

    • Wow, J.D.–you are fired up today, and I love seeing that kind of passion for things that honor God and that uphold the righteousness that made us the greatest nation on earth. The way you’re charging headlong into the issues we need to confront in this spiritual war going on makes me wonder if some of Mavric’s personality is rubbing off on you–not the lust for the ladies, of course, but his attitude toward being fenced in and not free to do what God put in him to do. Oops… did I just wander into a J.D. kind of comment? If I did, I probably screwed up the lesson.
      In any case, I am so encouraged by your commitment to God’s truth and, you courageous stand for righteousness, and your readiness to admit that none of us deserve the glorious gift Jesus died to give us. Whether we have the power to push back against the evil is an interesting question. If we don’t have Him in us and in sovereign control of what we do, then the answer is no. But if we do, we may stand in awe of what He does with us redeemed sinners.
      God bless you, my friend, and I agree that some of the Pharisees we sit next to in church need a double dose of those pills. We’re praying that God brings you out of your quarantine as fired up, filled up, and ready to unleash what God has given you as your sound now.

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  3. Amen, Ron! The power we need today comes from above, not from ourselves. May we remember that we ARE in a spiritual battle which can’t be won unless we surrender to God in prayer and repentance. Let’s don the full armor of Christ!
    Blessings!

    Like

    • Let me offer back my heartfelt “Amen” to you as well, Martha, especially the admonition to put on the full armor of Christ. Total dependence on Him is an easy thing to say, but our fallen human nature makes it hard to admit how really powerless we are and to relinquish every confidence we have in our own strength and ability. Like Paul, our strength is measured in proportion to the affirmation of our weakness. Thank you, my friend, for being one of the ones willing to be weak so that His strength might be free to operate in you.

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