The other day, in the wee hours of the morning, a spring storm blew in with the fury of a toddler whose favorite toy had been taken away. We woke up to an eerily dark and quiet house – and it remained that way for over 15 hours as crews worked to restore power. Finally, at around 7:30 pm, sweet electricity began to flow again. The only casualty was a carton of milk that smelled like it was on the bubble. I didn’t take any chances and poured it out.
Have you noticed that churches frequently run out of power? I’m not talking about gas or electricity, but the limitless power that Jesus promised. Many churches tap into spotty human energy, relying on timeworn traditions and canned programs. Now and then they might try something new, but their hearts aren’t’ really in it. When these endeavors fail, folks add another protective layer to their souls, thinking, “We need to stay in our comfort zone.” Over time, their church becomes a vapid social club with a little harmless religion tossed in.
In the Book of Acts, we see another power source called the Holy Spirit. The disciples accessed this supernatural energy by obedient waiting. They sat prayerfully “in one place” (Acts 2:1), anticipating great things from God. They didn’t know what was coming, but they knew that the Lord was about to open a glorious new chapter. Their expectations were met when the Holy Spirit blew in as wind and fire, imparting a power beyond their imaginations. The church was birthed that day, growing exponentially as the disciples stayed connected with the dunamis of the Spirit.
If there is one Christian season in which we need to forsake our fleshly power, it is Lent. This is the season of self-denial, but again, it isn’t just giving something up so we can feel better about ourselves. It is surrendering to God, which is not easy or natural for us. We often unplug God’s power because we subtly believe we can do it better. To tap into the Holy Spirit, we must devote ourselves to prayer and holy expectation. We must diligently study the scriptures, learning from our Master Teacher. Most importantly, we need to shut off the switch labeled “Our Way.”
Only then can we say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).