Line of dominoes

A few weeks ago, I heard an unmistakable chirping sound as I walked through the basement to the laundry room. We had recently changed the batteries in the various smoke alarms, but we had overlooked the carbon monoxide detector mounted high on the wall. As I climbed a chair to take it down, from my high vantagepoint I noticed that the thermostat situated just below and to the right of the carbon monoxide detector was blank. Nothing was on or running. The HVAC unit for the basement doesn’t see a lot of action since the cave-lake rooms down there mostly remain at a consistently pleasant temperature, so who knows how long it had been out. I called an air conditioning repairman, and he alerted me to the fact that the drain pan which the unit sits in was full of water, resulting in the unit cutting out. Otherwise, it was operating perfectly fine. He also showed me where a slow but steady drip was winding its way from somewhere upstairs, hopping from one wire or cable or pipe to another, then eventually landing in that drain pan. Later that evening, my husband and I took turns being the upstairs-listener or the downstairs-tapper (the basement person poking a broom handle on the spot where we thought the leak originated), until we located the leaky culprit—the water line to the refrigerator. Next to enter, a plumber who had to cut a bit of the drywall behind the refrigerator to get to the spot in need of repair. With his task accomplished, our last domino fell in this particular home repair saga.

 

The whole sequence of events—innocent chirping to blank screen to full drain pan to refrigerator leak—presented a few what-ifs. What if I were taller and didn’t require a chair to get the detector down, making me less likely to notice the thermostat? What if the drips hadn’t chosen that particular path (into the drain pan), but instead dripped behind a wall where it would go unseen, eventually causing real damage?

 

The experience was a reminder to me that things are happening behind the scenes everyday which I am absolutely oblivious to but still affected by. For instance, how many times have I been on my way out of the house and then I’m forced to run back inside for some forgotten item making me a fraction later, but also making me miss being involved in an accident? There’s just no way to know.

 

You can approach this reality two different ways: You can see life as a wild ride, unchecked and uncontrolled by anyone. Everything is just coincidence and good or bad luck. Or you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that my life and the lives of every single soul I encounter are tethered to a plan. There is Someone in control, and (Thank goodness!) it isn’t me. For many people, their favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, and for good reason. During those times when things seem to be spinning out of control, it’s encouraging to read: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

A little help

As I was sitting on the sidelines of one of my sons’ soccer games recently, I heard a familiar question, “A little help?” It was part request, part heads-up. A ball had rolled from one of the nearby fields and was heading toward ours. The kicker wanted us to stop it from rolling onto the area where a game was being played, but also he wanted someone to toss it back to him.

 

A dad scooped up the ball and sent it back to the boy, and play continued on our field. Though the exchange was commonplace and unremarkable, I kept thinking about the phrase: a little help? It wasn’t formulated as an actual question, but it was a request for assistance.

 

I suppose the phrase stuck with me because I’ve been pondering how much help I’ve needed help lately myself. I started using a hearing aid a few weeks ago to help with the hearing loss in my left ear. I had told myself for a while that I could live with the constant buzzing and the muffled sounds on that side of my head. I’d just work around it and pivot my good ear toward what I wanted to hear, I told myself. It was just an annoyance. Eventually, with the encouragement of my husband, I saw a few medical professionals and now I can hear pretty well again.

 

It’s funny how many of us refuse to ask for help. It’s silly, really. I’ve been blessed many times to be on the giving side of the arrangement, so I know there are plenty of people ready and willing to step in and help, so why am I so reluctant to be on the receiving end?

 

Maybe it’s because we’re taught to be independent D.I.Y.-ers who just need to figure it out. Maybe it’s a control thing, and we don’t want to give the task to someone who’s going to botch and blunder his way through it when we could get it done so much better. Or maybe we’re afraid of what others will think. “Will they say I’m a bad ____ (mom, wife, daughter, employee, neighbor, Christian, etc.)?”

 

There are plenty of excuses not to ask for help, but there’s also countless reasons why our reluctance is complete foolishness. That’s why we have to ask ourselves the tough questions: Are my claims of independence and high standards actually plain arrogance? Is my worrying over what others will think superficial and, let’s face it, such a waste of time? Am I harming the people I’m in charge of caring for when I don’t seek assistance for myself?

 

Another important question I’ve had to ask myself is this: Does my refusal to ask for help from the people in my life translate to how I petition my Heavenly Father through prayer? In other words, if I don’t use the help memuscle with the loving humans around me, can I be expected to use it with my loving God? In Timothy Keller’s book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, he says that “Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” I sure could use more of God’s presence, and prayer is the door to enter into it.

 

So, in case no one has told you this today, it’s okay to ask for help. Actually, it’s not just okay, it’s a holy command. We read over and over in Scripture, that we should cry out. And Isaiah 30 gives us an example of God’s willingness to help: “So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help…He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.” Take that first step to get the help you need.

Stockpiling God’s blessings

Our two sons are both on travel soccer teams. This means that they seem to be playing ball all the time. In the winter, we’ve watched them play in high school gymnasiums and indoor soccer facilities, but most of the action is outside. We’ve stood under umbrellas watching them play in the rain. We’ve stamped our feet to keep warm at spring tournaments where there was still snow on the ground. And there have been plenty of games where we have sat, sweaty and sunburnt, in the blazing heat. This was our experience the last weekend of August.

 

Last Saturday, our older son played in Murfreesboro on those beautiful new turf fields. As nice as they are, that hunter green rubber grass also seems to draw in the heat, creating an atmosphere similar to the surface of the sun. Now I’ve been watching him play soccer for more than a decade, so I was mostly prepared for the magnitude of the heat. I started the morning drinking from my water jug, hours before I ever sat in my camping chair in the noonday sun. I had chugged 32 ounces by 10:00 a.m. and brought along more to drink during the game. I knew from experience that once you begin sweating, it’s almost too late to start drinking water. You have to start before you even feel thirsty.

 

This idea of storing up what you need before you get to a moment of crisis isn’t particularly profound. You can see it exhibited in the grocery stores at the first sign of a snowflake. The bread aisles left bare, with only a few loaves of raisin bread remaining. But there’s more to stockpiling necessary goodness besides just water and other staples. We can also store up sweet memories and miraculously puzzling developments. The light of these reminiscences brightening future darkness.

 

You have to wonder if Mary, Jesus’ mother, did just that as she held her newborn in her arms. She couldn’t have known the scope of Jesus’ ministry or the horrific death he would suffer, but the Book of Luke paints a beautiful picture of a mother treasuring the sweet moments in her heart.

 

Mary had given birth. Then a pack of shepherds came bursting inside the stable where Jesus was born. They must’ve blurted out crazy stories about an angelic choir announcing the Savior’s birth. They were joyfully spreading the news all over Bethlehem, and people were listening. Then, in one brief verse, we read that “Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.” (The Message) She tucks away the image of the shepherds and the story that they told about the hillside concert, almost as if she knew she might need this precious memory for later. Perhaps she knew she’d need to take out the sweetness of that night and hold it, turning it over in her mind to escape a challenging time.

 

How are you preparing your heart for future difficulties? What’s the spiritual equivalent of building a Y2K shelter? Make a list of the good things God has done for you, counting your blessings and thanking the One who provided them. Commit Scriptures to memory, giving yourself an arsenal of God’s Word to have at the ready. Store up treasures, just like Mary. Ponder them and then share them with a thirsty world desperately in need of relief.

The Invention of the Microwave

When I was 6-years old, my dad bought our family’s first microwave oven. It was a giant behemoth with its own designated piece of furniture, a cart made of lightly stained oak which sat on little caster wheels and had a cabinet underneath to store all the sundry accouterments a microwave might require. This included cookbooks full of recipes designed especially for the microwave, such as the Betty Crocker one which contained such favorites as “Parmesan Sole with Mushrooms” and “Chicken Fricassee with Parsley Dumplings” and “Egg Foo Yong Casserole.”

 

If memory serves, my grandmother wasn’t overly pleased with it, at first. Those of us who do a lot of cooking aren’t always quick to embrace newfangled gizmos when it comes to making our tried and true, ordinary weeknight to special holiday recipes, but my mom was sold. She used the microwave for everything—from cooking eggs to making meatloaf, boiling water for iced tea to browning meat for spaghetti sauce. In the years that followed, it became a regular occurrence for Mom to leave a side dish in the microwave. We’d finish up our meal, and then she’d remember it—the  covered Corningware dish full of corn or the broccoli slathered in now-congealed blobs of Velveeta still sitting in the microwave. Disappointed, she would place the uneaten dish in the refrigerator to be eaten at the next meal, easily warmed up in the…yeah, you guessed it…the microwave!

 

Microwaves are fairly commonplace now, but when they first hit the scene in American homes, the major selling point was their ability to simplify our busy lives. This rationale was revealed by the ad slogans for some of the brands: “Life becomes more convenient when you have one of the Easy Waves from Toshiba” and “Whirlpool…making your world a little easier.” The commercials would show frazzled housewives who can barely keep it together. They had to deal with various disasters and distractions, simultaneously: the son knocking over a lamp with his baseball in the living room and the daughter screeching away on her violin and the dog running through the kitchen with muddy paws and the phone ringing incessantly. Enter the microwave…ta-da! In spite of her crazy household, she now has a perfectly roasted chicken, in no time!

 

With school starting back for my four kids and all that goes with it, I feel a little like that woman before she gets her time-saving microwave. I’m always in a rush, always behind, always wondering what I’m forgetting. But I’m finding that the easy way isn’t always the best way (just like microwaved Egg Foo Yong Casserole might be fast, but not so tasty!) There’s something to be said for taking it slow when we can.

 

I love this passage from Isaiah: “The path of right-living people is level. The Leveler evens the road for the right-living. We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want. Through the night my soul longs for you. Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you…In the land of right living, the wicked persist in wrong living, blind to the splendor of God.” (The Message)

 

I’m pretty sure there are way too many times when I am “blind to the splendor of God.” I think I need a microwaved day, quickly done and over with (and not cooked all the way through in the center), but then I’d miss the contented lingering our Father offers. Microwave ovens have their good points, but don’t zip through life too quickly and miss out on one of God’s guiding sign-posts.

Worst Enemy

I had a friend in elementary school named Jill who was allergic to chocolate. I knew she tried to avoid it, but I didn’t know exactly why or what would happen if she ate it. That is until we were in the same homeroom in the 3rd grade…

 

Without any warning or explanation, Jill jumped up from her desk and ran out of the room. She just bolted like a flash of light. My teacher instructed me to go after Jill and see what was wrong. Now, had this been any other teacher, I would’ve asked where I should look for my friend. I would’ve requested more guidance as to how I should best care for Jill, but this was Mrs. Yells-A-Lot. She was mad all the time and not so very fun. I was a ball of anxiety for all of 3rd grade, because this teacher was as predictable as a tornado. You could see her coming across the horizon, but you didn’t know which way the funnel would swerve, toward you and your paper without a name at the top of the page or toward your neighbor who had forgotten to clean up his crayons. (Crayon Kid was probably Kevin, a boy who was a bit disheveled and indifferent to learning and always in her path of angry destruction. To make matters worse, when the teacher would holler, “Kevin!” it would inexplicably sound like she was saying my name and I would answer. Then she would yell, “Is your name Kevin?!” I was so anxious I would say, “I don’t know!” and start gnawing on my Smurf erasers. Yeah, I was a stressed out 8-year old.)

 

Back to Jill…I also ran out of the classroom to search for my friend. Using the detective skills I had learned from The Bloodhound Gang, I determined which way to look for her: to the right which would lead toward an outside door and eventually the nurse’s office or to the left toward the bathrooms? I found the clue I needed when I saw a trail of blood on the linoleum floor to the left. I followed the little red drops to the girls’ restroom. (The restroom which, according to school lore, was home to the Bell Witch, a ghost who could be summoned if you said, “I hate the Bell Witch” three times while staring at the mirror. Then she would savagely claw your face with her razor-sharp fingernails. Childhood is such a magical time.) When I threw open the restroom door, I saw Jill standing at the sink, her blue and white romper with the smocked pictures of hot air balloons across her chest now covered in blood. She turned to look at me, blood dripping from her chin, and I scanned the room for any sign that the Bell Witch still remained, but Jill just squeaked out, “I ate chocolate! I know I shouldn’t do it, but I did it!” And then she broke down and sobbed.

 

Just like Jill eating chocolate even though she knew it would cause her to have a severe nosebleed, most of us do the opposite of what we know we should do. In this way, we’re all too often our own worst enemy. The Apostle Paul knew this. In the Book of Romans, Paul says, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking…I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” (Living Bible)

 

But thankfully that’s not the end of it. “So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.

 

Praise the Lord that we aren’t stuck slouching over that nasty sink in a haunted bathroom with the temptations and anxieties of the world keeping us on a never-ending loop of our own foolishness. There’s a better way and a heavenly prize waiting for us. “For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.”

Deadheading

I enjoy being outside in the summer, especially in the morning before the sun sends down the full force of its intensity. One of my favorite tasks is watering the potted plants on our front porch.

 

I like a variety of colors and textures in these pots—stalks of purple salvia, fuchsia trumpets of million bells, and petit bouquets of pink and yellow lantana. But one of the easiest flowers to care for and find at the store is petunias. They’re so simple and cheerful. And they come with an added bonus for people who like fussing with things, like peeling off labels and picking at stickers. I get to deadhead the petunia blooms nearly every day.

 

It’s amazing what a difference it makes to pinch away these shriveled, brown blooms! In the space of just a few days, my petunias can go from looking like they’re ready for the compost pile to full and lush and beautiful. Even the most unassuming plants are more complex than they may seem. Little Petunia is constantly trying to keep itself alive by passing water and nutrients throughout its maze of roots and stems. When I take away those dead blooms, Petunia can concentrate on its healthier parts. It can conserve energy. It can send out new blooms.

I see a similar reward when I deadhead bitterness from my life. I can wake up early, before the heat of another busy day has worn me out, and choose to do what Ephesians 4 instructs: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This may look like cutting back on social media or being open to the Spirit’s nudges to serve in a particular way or limiting my exposure to people who radiate bitterness like the sun on a hot afternoon in July.

 

Then I can put my energy into doing some more of what I read in Ephesians: “…put off your old self…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” I can receive the reward of fresh, new blooms. Oh boy! I can feel the contented sigh rising up through me already! Why does it too often take so long to cast off that yucky burden and exchange it for something so much better?

 

When I’m done deadheading my petunias, I look down at the handful of sticky, brown flowers. I wad them up into a smooshed ball and throw them out into the yard. They’re gone, on their way to transforming into the dirt where my grass is growing. There’s no reason to hold on to them, not with better than bitter alternatives waiting for me. See ya later, old self!

Patience

I’ve written before about the perils of broken bones. With four active (and possibly clumsy?) kids, we’ve had our fair share of trips to get x-rays. During a recent high school soccer game, our older son Knox added a fifth broken bone to his personal list. From what I could see from my seat on the diagonally-opposite end of the soccer field, Knox had passed the ball, then a player from the other team ran into him like a locomotive and sent him flying through the air. Knox landed on his arm and was escorted to his team bench. We hustled him off to get an x-ray, and the next day he had a new conversation-starter by way of a black forearm cast. Oh, Knox! What happened? Well…

 

It’s not especially serious—just a little buckle fracture on his left wrist—but he got a cast just to keep it protected. It hasn’t slowed him down much. He’s still playing soccer and will wear the cast at church camp in a few weeks. (Yes, that’s just as gross as you think it is.) But if there’s one thing we’ve learned through all these broken bones (other than asking for a waterproof cast, if possible), is that all you can do is endure it. The healing takes time, and waiting for time to pass takes patience (and sometimes liberal applications of Febreze).

 

Unfortunately for our current society, we’ve become abysmally bad at exercising patience. When I was young, it was nothing for me to stand in a long line with my mom at the bank or a store. I’m not saying that I liked it, but we definitely practiced this skill a lot more often than we do now. It’s possible to force ourselves to strengthen this rarely used muscle of patience in specific, intentional ways, but let me give you a motivator for why it’s important to learn to be patience. And it goes beyond waiting for a bone to heal so a stinky cast can come off! It is actually downright spiritual!

 

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Rome, encouraging them to remain faithful and righteous, even when it seemed like they should give up. He compared what they were going through to the pains of childbirth. Just like a mother struggling to give birth, they should hold on to a future hope. It would all be worth it!

 

In Romans 8, we read, “We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (NLT)

 

Paul doesn’t tell them to ignore their present troubles. He also doesn’t tell them to imagine they’re already living in the time of future glory. He reminds them that the waiting is a gift, a one-of-a-kind, gorgeously-wrapped present. You unwrap it and look inside. What do you see? Hope. It’s quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.  Having an event or holiday or special meal to look forward to can often be just as rewarding as the thing itself. One version of the Bible called The Message puts it this way: “But the longer we wait…the more joyful our expectancy.”

Turn on the light

When you’re the youngest kid in a family, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with an eclectic treasure trove of toys/junk. At least that’s the case for our youngest son, Ezra. His three older siblings amassed plenty of plastic figurines during their early childhood, and now those Happy Meal toys and army men and Fisher-Price animals and Matchbox cars are in various bins and boxes in his bedroom, if not strewn across the floor waiting to be stepped on by my bare feet.

 

One of his favorite collections is a set he picked out when we traveled to Disney World a few years ago. It’s made up of figurines from the movie The Lion King. He likes pretending that the hyenas are attacking the lions with the ultimate fate of Pride Rock in jeopardy. Recently, he asked me to help him find Scar, the main bad guy from the movie. Ezra didn’t feel like he could satisfactorily play out the drama without him.

 

Now most moms know that they are often the only ones who can find lost things. It’s not uncommon for me to hear the following: “Where are my shoes? Have you seen my library book? I can’t find my jersey!” And apparently I’m the only one who possesses the unique ability to find these things that I don’t own nor am I responsible for. (Often, all that is required to find the lost item is looking under other things, and, for some reason, this is a difficult skill for kids to master.)

 

I instructed Ezra to comb through his bins of toys and his toy chest. After a few minutes, he came back to the living room and reported that he had been unsuccessful. He said that he had dumped all of his toys on the floor, but he still couldn’t find Scar. I walked back to his bedroom and saw the piles of toys, noticing that the light was off and the window blind was still closed from the night before. Ezra was standing behind me, so I asked him, “Did you look for Scar with the light off?” He answered, “Yes.” I told him that it’s difficult to look for something in the dark. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Knowing my proclivity for finding things, he decided to believe me. We switched the light on and started digging.

 

The Bible mentions light and the goodness of light hundreds of times. We see that God made light at Creation, just as He is light with no darkness in him. The Bible says that we can’t simultaneously live in the light and hate a fellow believer.  It says that people can be walking in darkness, then they can be transformed once the light dawns. We read Jesus’ instructions not to hide our lights under a bowl or a bed.

 

Jesus also tells a story about a woman who has ten coins and loses one. She lights a lamp and sweeps her house, carefully searching for the lost coin. Once found, she rejoices, calling her friends and neighbors over for a party. (Jesus’ parable doesn’t specify that the woman was a mother, but it makes sense that only a mom would be able to find the lost coin.)

 

Light is essential, from growing plants to finding lost things. Just as a sunflower leans toward the sun’s rays as it climbs taller, we should set our sights on good things and allow the light to reveal what we’ve lost.

Deadly weapon

I’m in the process of teaching our 15-year old son how to drive. Since this is the third kid for me to teach this particular lesson, I know there’s a lot of important information to cover. There are the basics—which pedal is the gas and which is the brake, how to switch on the wipers and the turning signal and the headlights, and the meaning behind the various traffic signs. There are also nuanced skills, such as how to know that you’re in the center of your lane (new drivers are usually really scared of the series of mailboxes flying past them on their right and incoming cars whizzing by in the opposite lane) and when to start braking (they rarely start as soon as I’d like them to).

 

But before he ever sat behind the wheel, I told my son one of the most important truths about driving: This car is a weapon. I told him that a driver must take this task very seriously, paying close attention to the other cars and pedestrians around him. In the hands of a careless and distracted driver, this car is like a loaded gun just waiting to kill someone. This may sound severe, but I know it to be true, and I would be a fool to ignore my chance to warn him about life-altering mistakes before they happen.

 

We often concentrate on the physical dangers of recklessness, but it’s important to warn our children (and remind ourselves) of the perils of something much smaller than a car or even a gun, but deadly in a different way—our words. With a few choices words, we can tear down another person, and the better we know them, the easier it is to dismantle their self-esteem.

 

In his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum plays with the old adage which claims words can’t hurt us. Instead, he says, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.” In most cases, bones can heal, but it’s much harder to forget the pain inflicted on us by a parent who says we’re too stupid or a spouse who says we’re too fat or a friend who says we’re not wanted. Words can create an inner scar. They can pop back into our thoughts decades later to remind us of our shortfalls. Especially nasty remarks can affect future jobs and relationships. They can be joy-stealers and future-destroyers.

 

In James 3, we read about the power of the tongue. We see that it’s capable of great things: “We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.” From the inspiring sermons of Dr. King to the sweet “Have a great day!” note your mom put in your lunchbox, words can make the world a better place.

 

But there’s a dark side to what the tongue can do. “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.”

 

The next time you’re in a car, safely passing other giant boxes made of metal and flame, consider the dangers involved. Then take a moment to reflect on the destructive power of your words. Steer both your car and your mouth as if lives were on the line.

Unplugged

Our home has had more work done on it than an aging movie star. Roof, siding, bathroom renovations, kitchen renovation, basement renovation, carpet, carpet again (after the flood of 2010), the addition of a sunroom, and gallons and gallons of paint. It’s gone through a lot of changes, so it isn’t unusual for us find something down in the basement or up in the attic or even out in the yard that just doesn’t make sense.

 

A few summers ago, we had to have a portion of our front yard dug up to repair the gas line. One might hope to find a treasure buried beneath all that dirt, but we weren’t so lucky. We mostly found rocks. One puzzling thing we did find was a random black cable. The length was indeterminable, and the cut end was just sticking out of the dirt like a curious garter snake. Though we’ve been assured that it isn’t connected to a power source and no electrical current is pulsing through it, we have left it there. Each time I walk past it, I am reminded of what it is to be rendered inept, defective, powerless.

 

I’ve felt the same as that cable many times, hopeless and broken down, unable to make a difference or exchange bad for good, disconnected from power. But I’m told in the Scriptures that I’m not so powerless as I sometimes feel. I’ve just forgotten where the Power is coming from.

 

In Ephesians 3, Paul says: “…I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (NLT)

 

Tapping into the power of God’s spirit gives me strength, peace and confidence, but more than that, it allows me to be an adapter. Wired for the highest voltage and fitted with the ground wire of Christ-like humility, I am equipped to help pass that spirit along to others.

 

After Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, his disciples got busy spreading the Good News. There were times when their message was met with acceptance and joy, and other times when they were run out of town. Once, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council. They had healed a lame beggar and a crowd had formed, anxious for answers and more miracles. The Jewish leaders didn’t like where this was heading, so they wanted to shut them up. Acts 4 tells us that Peter and John were filled with the power of the Spirit as they boldly refused to stop speaking about Jesus. The Jewish leaders eventually gave in and released them.

 

Peter and John hurried to meet with the other disciples to share what had happened. They prayed together, asking God for courage and even more miracles and healings. Next, the place where they were meeting shook, vibrating with the presence of God’s Spirit. But this isn’t where it ends. If this were a Marvel movie, we might expect that those who were electrified would become selfish and power-hungry. Instead, we read that they were compelled to testify to the story of Jesus and give away all that they had so that no one was needy.

 

When I feel helpless, I can still help others. When I feel powerless, I can still plug into the power of God’s Spirit. And when I feel defeated, there is still something I can control. I can choose to submit to the will of the One who ultimately holds all the power.