The world says that power is the fruit of experience: that previous experience creates in us a pool of knowledge which we can share with those who lack the knowledge we possess, enabling us to serve others from a position of power.
God’s Word says that power is the fruit of obedience: that as we step out into the unknown, in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, God’s power is able to flow through us. For God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Or, God’s power is free to flow where we have voluntarily handed our claim to power into his hands, and chosen powerlessness.
In other words, it is not our experience that counts, but our obedience. It is not our previous experience – which, where it was fruitful, will have been the consequence of our past obedience – that counts, but our present obedience.
The problem is that we are so conditioned by the world that it is second nature to us that power is the fruit of experience, and that we empower others by sharing our experience with them. And so we perpetuate what is second nature, rather than returning to what is first nature to us: what we know, but overlook; what is always in front of us, but we so often miss.
This particular second nature is especially hard to put to death for those of us who genuinely want to help others. It is unlikely that we will kill it with one blow. More likely, we will have to nail it over and over again, each time we catch ourselves operating or trying to operate out of experience and power rather than obedience and powerlessness.
At least, that is how it is for me.
That is why I need (not only the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday, but the measured final approach of) Holy Week, year after year after year.
Lord, help me to walk in obedience to the cross, and there to put to death my past, that I might know you and experience your transforming power today. Amen.