Feature

Beyond Our Control

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When I look out my window, America’s mountain—Pikes Peak—dominates the landscape. In the presence of this natural wonder, rising more than 14,000 feet, residents and visitors feel small and powerless. Those feelings are accented by the view from the mountain’s summit, making everything look insignificant—even the city of Colorado Springs.

It’s uncomfortable to feel powerless. Yet events in our world increasingly force us away from our perception of control and highlight our lack of independence. In recent months we’ve been overwhelmed by news about earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and volcanoes. People have died, communities have been decimated and thousands of jobs have been lost—and all we can do is look on, able only to respond to the disasters but powerless to stop them.

Too often it takes something big, like a wildfire, hurricane or terminal illness, to remind us of how little we actually control. Yet we still cling to those areas of our lives, or the lives of others, that we can attempt to manage or influence—because it isn’t comfortable to be powerless. This approach produces a sphere of stress and anxiety around those who attempt to control events or other people.

What if I could tell you how to eliminate worry and strain and accomplish more in the process? Can you imagine a more relaxed and productive approach to life and ministry? Would you like to know that everything and everyone is completely under control and therefore out of our sphere of anxiety? It will take a Power beyond ourselves, but it is available to us.

One of our core values states: Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish nothing. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about ministry outside of his control zone: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4–5).

On many occasions, Jesus talked about our natural powerlessness and what happens when we allow God to energize all we do. He emphasized our innate weakness when He told His disciples that they could not add even an hour to their lives (Matt. 6:27). But those same disciples trembled with fear when Jesus unveiled His power in their presence: “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:41).

During three years of mentoring, Jesus taught His followers about divine empowerment and the consequences of independence: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5–8; italics added).

His parting words to His disciples raised their expectations and issued a world class challenge: “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). Can you imagine the disciples trying to carry out this commission apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit? They wouldn’t even have had an impact on Jerusalem!

Would you join me in walking in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for our lives and ministries? Let’s allow Him to take control and replace our powerlessness with His power.

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