Talking with a friend today, I found myself using a surfing analogy – which is somewhat amusing since I don’t surf. At all. In fact, apart from helping baptize a friend at the beach this past Sunday, I haven’t been in the ocean this year. Doesn’t change the accuracy of the illustration. You see, before entering the water, you’ve selected your equipment: you can pull on a wetsuit, grab your board, wax it. Everything about you is in your control. And you can check the weather and the surf report, but nothing about the ocean is in your power. Once you slip in and paddle out, it’s another thing entirely. Absolutely, there is skill involved in catching and riding a wave. But there is no swell, no wave, no tide, nothing to ride without the power of the ocean.
When we serve God and minister to those in our communities, we bring our experience, our expertise, our spiritual giftedness and everything about ourselves. But we are completely powerless to actually bring transformation without the Holy Spirit. We are foolish to not recognize Him as the essential originator of all spiritual endeavors. And we are equally ignorant if we think that He will empower our ministry that is not focused on the Gospel. As Jesus said to His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8.) All our work, teaching and theology are in vain if we are not dependent upon the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and led by the Spirit.
In fact, all the actual work of my ministry is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Yes, God has blessed me with spiritual gifts, and given me discernment and wisdom, and years of experience to draw upon. But I am just an earthen vessel that His power might shine through (see 2 Corinthians 4.) When this Scripture is fleshed out, one can see how God brings Himself glory by indwelling His people with the same power He manifested in the act of creation. And the more broken the clay, the more His light shines through.
I’ll try to remember that truth next time I’m asking God to give me strength. I am broken, and that’s the way it should be. It is His all-surpassing power that matters, not mine.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor 4:6-11.)[divider_top]Click for top[/divider_top]