Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I went to visit my parents in Big Bear Lake, California. During my visit, my Dad suggested we take a canoe across the lake to visit a friend on the other side. I had never rowed before, and I remember being very gung-ho and wanting to do my part in getting us across that lake.
Big Bear Lake is pretty broad, though. Halfway across, my arms were aching and I was puffing. I had to take a break, feeling like I was somehow letting my Dad down.
The next minute I felt a surge of power shooting us across the lake. The canoe was cutting through the water effortlessly----I looked behind me in the canoe and saw my Dad, smiling and getting us across the lake in no time. I don't think he had any idea what had been going through my mind-----it was no big deal for him. But the little picture has stayed etched on my mind ever since. Whenever I feel like I need to "row as hard as I can", I take it with a grain of salt. There's Someone bigger and much better equipped than I am to get me where I need to go :-)
Fast forward to 2012.
Stu and I are at the little church next door to the nursing home, enjoying an evening of worship music. (NewSong is blessed with quite a few excellent musicians, I have noticed, including the pastor!) The evening is drawing to a close, and by this time I am standing up, behind Stu's wheelchair, my arms around his neck and using his chest as a drum. We are both singing loudly, but at the same time I am reflecting that in the old days, Stu would have had many sharp criticisms of the music, the people, the church, the community----you name it, he would have had something to say about it. So much of that has melted away since the stroke! A miracle! In those days, I often despaired of ever being able to share with Stu the sweetness of just enjoying and loving God's people, singing with them, praying with them, caring about them, worshiping our Father together. I tried, sometimes, to find some way to cross that gulf myself----to row across that "lake". Lake Skeptic, you might say! But my efforts always failed. I was forced to stop trying. And in the not trying.....in the surrender (an ongoing surrender, I must tell you) .....I feel the surge of power. I feel great Shoulders at work, navigating waters I can't understand, and I take a big, deep breath of relief. I know He will smile when I feel ready to row again, and maybe even give me pointers on doing it better-----but our destination doesn't depend on me. He just gives me the sense of participation because............He's my Dad, and every good Dad loves to include and encourage his kids
I think the following passage, from Paul's letter to the Ephesians, illustrates God's character and his relationship with us. Notice that it is a power that originates with God, but is shared and nurtured in us by Him:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Eph. 3: 16-21