I arrived at the office early this morning because I had documents to print for this week. I had done my homework on my study day, prepared three different experiences that would be delivered later in the week. Digital media had been forwarded to our team, but this morning, I needed to grab the physical copies. When I went to print, I saw this code: “Server offline.” I had the information. I had the preparation. I had the purpose clearly in mind. But without the power of connection, it was dead in the water.
As I was contemplating a backup plan, I remembered a question that was tendered to me many years ago: “If the Holy Spirit didn’t show up at your church one day, would anyone notice?” The cars that are passing the office building are not affected by the server being down. The world of commerce, trade, politics, and education are steaming forward this morning, unaffected by my server problem. For the casual observer, being offline is of no consequence. Frankly, being offline is an inconvenience to me, but I have backup options that I can access.
But if you are trying to follow Jesus without the empowering leadership of the Holy Spirit, you have NO backup plan. Paul made that point forcefully when he was confronting people who had become arrogant in their self-sufficiency. They could talk a great game, but living it was a different matter. To them he said something that is a frequent and potent reminder to me: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is LIVING by GOD’s POWER.” (1 Corinthians 4:20) In other words, our efforts and ideas are empty if they are not animated by God’s power through the Holy Spirit. We must be connected to the power source, and when we’re “offline” because of our own neglect, our own arrogance, our own self-sufficiency, confidence in our own skills, we are just pursuing a lot of talk. Living the Kingdom of God is only possible by connection to God’s power.
Are you pursuing that? Are you pursuing HIS pleasure, listening for HIS leadership, obeying HIS instruction, operating by HIS grace? Perhaps the simpler question is this: Are you pursuing HIS agenda or YOURS?
Today, I’m easily frustrated by a server that must be reset; but I’m convicted because I can get on cruise control with tasks and drive right by the power source I need that can only be accessed through Him. Every day I must choose to come to HIM; I must choose to live by God’s power, to follow His lead. Without it, my effort and intentions–just like my documents–feel lost and powerless.