Need Power? - Ephesians 1:15-23
How many of you have ever felt powerless?
I imagine over the last few days quite a number of us have felt powerless…in fact, many of us may still feel powerless this morning and may have come here not only to worship but as a refuge of the cold and darkness. Anita and I, as I am sure many of you have, have been powerless on a number of occasions. In fact as we sat in the cold on Friday morning we debated. We have lost power due to winter storms and hurricanes and were discussing which time of the year was the worst to lose power. She suggested it was the winter time, because you simply get cold and it’s hard to get warm, and probably, it would seem that way to many because it is also a time of the year when it stays dark longer. I, on the other hand, think myself more practical. In the summer time when the power goes out, the things in your refrigerator and freezer get warm a lot quicker, and the ice you use to keep stuff cold in the coolers tends to melt quicker. In the winter time, at least to start with, you can just throw stuff in the coolers and put it outside. When it starts to get warmer outside, and you ice stuff down, the ice hangs around a lot longer in shady spots, or where our coolers are right now, in the dark kitchen (because it was colder in the house yesterday than outside). The one thing we did agree on, and we all could probably agree on, is that we really don’t like losing power anytime of the year. In fact, we are all so spoiled as to having electricity, let me ask a simply question, “how many of you, even after the power had been out for hours and the storm was still icing everything down outside and you could still hear transformers blowing and tree limbs cracking, still walked into a room and flipped on the light switch?” It is times like this when a Duke Energy or other power company vehicle appears to be a heavenly sight.
However, it is not simply a loss of electricity that leaves us feeling powerless. There are many other times in our lives when we feel powerless:
…when we lose our job.
…when a crisis, financial or relational, hits our family.
…when we, or someone we love, is the victim of a crime.
…when we are battling an addiction.
…when a disaster—either natural or terrorist—strikes.
…when we or a loved one become sick, especially if the diagnosis or prognosis is not for a physical recovery.
…when a loved one dies.
We may find ourselves in these situations and just not know what to do or where to turn. We feel helpless and powerless. Our world seems to have gone as dark as the last few days have been for some…though it is not the overhead lights that we are missing…it is the light within ourselves, the light of our entire world. It is the kind of darkness and power loss that no Duke Energy team could ever handle.
Paul knew about times like that. He writes that he had experienced an immeasurable amount of situations that would leave many of us feeling powerless:
“Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak?”[i]
Yet, in the verses following this, Paul does not grumble or complain about his hardships or his weakness, he says: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”[ii] Why is this? Paul tells us:
“So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for wherever I am weak, then I am strong.”[iii]
How could Paul find contentment in his weakness…in his powerlessness…it is because Paul knew the source of all power. He knew that when he felt powerless, he would find strength because he would no longer be relying on his own strength, but in the strength of God.
That’s why in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read a little while ago…in those seven short verses…in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians…his prayer is for the church, for all of God’s people…to experience the “immeasurable greatness of his power for all of us who believe.” In those short verses, he references power four times, and none of the power resides in us, it all resides in God. Paul wants us to know that true power comes not from Duke Energy or body building or even our own willpower, but true power resides in God and God alone.
I shared in the newsletter this month about a movie I was given the privilege of screening, God’s Not Dead, before it hits the theater later this month. I will not spoil all of the movie, but want to share with you one of the side-stories. There is a young woman who has no use for God or Christians at the beginning of this movie. As the movie progresses, she is diagnosed with cancer. She feels hopeless and powerless. She turns to her boyfriend who suggests that their relationship is now over because her illness doesn’t fit into his plans. Treatments don’t work. She struggles to just move from day to day. Yet, later, as she confronts a group of Christians about the uselessness of their faith, especially in her situation, and they take the time to witness to her about the presence and power of God, she comes to believe…and in the midst of her helplessness and powerlessness, the power of God suddenly fills her with joy and peace.
Where are you feeling powerless today? There is a source of power greater than any power company can bring us. For you and I, in the midst of whatever we are facing in our lives right now, there is the power of the One who claimed power of sin on the cross and the power of death as He raised His Son from the dead. The power of God is there available today, for you and I, regardless of what we are facing, God is there to give us the strength to weather the storm. He may not take the storm from us, but He will fill us with the Light of Christ and His own power and strength to endure it…for the One who conquered sin and death has the power to bring us through anything.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.