Hunting for a friendly power source
You may not have realised it yet – my apologies – but today is a Saturday. I say that because for the first time in about 20 years I failed to send my blog on the Friday. Just like when Big Ben failed to strike at 3.45 am on Thursday 5 August 1976. Such events can so easily disorientate us. One of my regular readers who travels a lot through his work asked me to continue sending my blog following my retirement. I was hoping he would say that he found my weekly digest inspirational or even just informative. But alas, no. Hs reason was that when he woke up in some hotel in a different time zone and my blog arrived, he then knew it must be a Friday! As it happens, my daughter on holiday in Spain actually thought yesterday was Thursday. She phoned this morning: “Where’s the blog?” Over the years I have developed the discipline of writing my blog on Friday morning – I may be 38000 feet over Brazil or stuck in a remote region of Bohemia. But like a dedicated war correspondent I always contrived to find a way of getting my blog out. But not yesterday. The problem was that we were at New Wine. Doing my blog at New Wine always is a challenge. In a hired caravan in the middle of a large county showground, offline and without mains power. And I don’t find using my iPad easy at the best of time. But yesterday I was well into my blog, more theological than usual – you would have been impressed. Then the warning appeared – Low Battery, 5% battery remaining. To begin with I tried speeding up but I soon realised that I was fighting a losing battle. Obviously the answer would be to walk one mile down to the Leaders’ Lounge or even the Marketplace and power up. But I had failed to bring the right cable. In fact, such is the pace of modern technology that when away, I am responsible for the charging of no less than six devices – two mobiles for Jacqui and me, two fitness watches as well as my iPod and iPad. Amazing they have six incompatible charging cables – and guess which one I had forgotten? Even then you have to find a power source. So when we were greeted at Pizza Express on Wednesday and asked where we would like to sit, I replied “Somewhere near an electric socket, please.” But that’s modern life – hunting for a friendly power source. And now I think about it, it’s also the Christian life too. As the departing Jesus promised his disciples. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 1:8). Such was the enormity of the commission and their sense of their own inadequacy that the disciples had no problem obeying Jesus’ command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4). But once the power was delivered at Pentecost, the world was forever changed. The Holy Spirit was making clear that God’s new creation had arrived with the resurrection victory of Jesus – and that the power which had raised Jesus from the dead was now at work through the ministry of those first Jesus-believers. At the time the task would have seemed daunting. After all Rome ruled what appeared to be the entire world where the authority of Caesar went unchallenged. But not now. As evangelist David Watson observed: “The transformation of society happened in the first century when a handful of timid disciples began, in the power of the Spirit, the greatest spiritual revolution the world has ever known. Even the mighty Roman Empire yielded, within three centuries, to the power of the gospel of Christ.” When God’s power is unleashed you expect great things – whole civilisations to shift, powerful rulers to be dethroned. The big surprise is how God has chosen to exercise his power. Through us. The apostle Paul knew this secret; he learnt it when he was at rock bottom. There Jesus addressed him with the astonishing message: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Strangely, I learnt this truth all those years ago as an 800m athlete. Even today when I hear the words “On your marks . .” I have a slight shudder. I recall only too clearly that feeling of complete weakness before a race as your body prepares for the exertion, the feeling that you wouldn’t even be able to walk, let alone run the full distance. This is a well-known physiological change which as an athlete you not only learn not just to ignore but to harness. This feeling of extreme lethargy is a sure sign that your body is ready for that burst of energy when the gun goes. Similarly we may feel weak, altogether inadequate for the task God has given us. No problem. We step out in faith and rely on God’s resources. It’s simply a case of staying charged as we abide in Christ and depend on his Holy Spirit as our power source.