October 24, 2012

White Knuckles No More

I find that when life gets busy, when demands are high, I put my head down and charge ahead. I white-knuckle it, gritting my teeth through it all, and I plot a finish line, a point ahead when I can lay down all responsibilities and rest. But then the finish line moves, and I want to quit it all. Unloading the dishwasher feels like moving a boulder up the hill, doing the laundry like running a marathon.
But something else happens when my head is down and I'm charging ahead: I miss out on life. I forget to look at the leaves changing and actually enjoy my favorite season. I am barking at my children to clean up messes instead of really seeing them and touching them. I fail to enjoy my days because I'm just trying to make it to bedtime. This is a joyless way to live.

In the carpool lane this morning, I thought about where I am and where I want to be and what's keeping me from being there. I just don't want to be a crazy person, ruled by a to-do list. Very gently, God spoke into my heart: You are fighting for joy, yes, but are you casting your cares upon Me? Don't you know that I want responsibility for your days? 

I have not been casting my cares upon Him. They have bunched up heavy on my shoulders and the weight is wearying me. I have been faithful to spend time in the Word, but I have not released my concerns to Him. I haven't asked for help. No wonder I just want to sit on the couch and stare into the T.V.

This is not what I want. I don't want to live like a zombie, white-knuckling my way through a maze of responsibilities. I don't want to be an unsafe person to myself. Most of all, I don't want to clog the power of God from moving in and through me.

I want to live by the power of God, fully alive to Him and His grace to me.

The power of God: this is the answer. So I go digging for what this means, because do I really know? I know my own pitiful weakness, but do I know about His power?

I find that, in fact, He is power itself:
God has power over all things (1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 62:11)
He is clothed with it (Psalm 65:6)
He has power over nature (Nahum 1:3)
He has power over all of His enemies and all other powers (Psalm 66:3, 1 Peter 3:22, Col 1:13)
He is more powerful than death (Psalm 49:15)
He has the power to redeem (Nehemiah 1:10)
He has the power to forgive sins (Matt 9:6)
He has power over temptation and the evil one (Matt 6:13)
God uses His power to lead, provide for, and protect us (Deut 9:29)

Not only that, but He gives us His power by giving us Himself:
He is our strength and power (2 Sam 22:32-34)
God gives strength and power to His people, to those who are weak (Psalm 68:35, Isaiah 40:29)
We have no power unless its given from above (John 19:11)
The Spirit is our power (Luke 24:49)
The gospel of Jesus is power (Rom 1:16)
The cross is power (1 Corinthians 1:18)
The Word of God is power (Heb 4:12)
He has given us all the power we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, 2 Tim 1:7)
He gives power so that in our weakness, He will be strong and people will know Him (Exodus 9:16, Psalm 106:8, 2 Cor 4:7)

How do we experience His power working in us? This is how:
Go to the gospel, go to the cross, go to the Word (see above)
Obedience unleashes God's power in us (Numbers 14:17)
Avoid disobedience since it hinders God's power in us (Ezra 8:22)
Avoid idolatry because it renders us powerless (Deut 32:35-37)
Set your eyes on the One who has power (2 Chronicles 20:12)
Do not put your faith in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor 2:5)
Boast in your weakness and in the grace of God (2 Cor 12:9)
Believe God (Eph 1:19)
Deny yourself and so share in the death and resurrection of Christ (Philippians 3:10)
Ask the Spirit to empower you (Rom 15:13)
Overcome and keep His works to the end (Rev 2:26)

My study only reinforced how weak and powerless I am apart from Christ. I will continue to fight for joy, but I am resolved to do it according to the Spirit's power in me. Friends, in this busy fall season, in the midst of difficult circumstances or great burdens, will you join me?

Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10