I’ve never thought of myself as a powerful person. Or even a person who is tempted by power. Perhaps this is because I’ve never seen myself as much of a leader — I’d much rather be the support squad .
But what is power? Often we equate power with leadership or authority — a big presence, someone who can call the shots. But at its core, power is simply the capacity to affect reality. Who doesn’t want that?
We all want to know that our lives make a difference in the world. The culture I live in is especially exhausted in its quest for a meaningful, special life. We look up to those who do something “big” with their lives and expect that this is what God wants from each of us. I know because that same drive to be amazing, to dramatically affect reality, dwells inside me.
Power in itself is not bad, as long as it is power used for good, for love. But in our search for power, meaning, and significance, it’s all too easy to follow the power this world offers instead of the power of Christ.
We follow a Savior whose power was made perfect in weakness. And yet weakness is so painful. The more I pay attention in my own life, I see how many coping mechanisms I have set up to keep myself safe from the exposure of “too much” weakness.
I had a realization this week: in each of the past five years since college, I’ve looked back at the end and though, “That was a humbling year.” Whether it was from the struggles of those I loved, the deferment of dreams, or illness, each year has exposed to me my own insufficiency and weakness. I think I had this idea that after a certain point, I would be “done” with the humbling process and eventually begin the growth trajectory.
But what if this is my growth trajectory? What if humbling is not just the method but the goal? What if we can only follow Christ in power when we submit to Him in weakness?
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I don’t know if I’ve fully grasped everything this means. And I certainly don’t believe that this means we need to resign ourselves to a life of boredom or a lack of dreams or ambitions. But I’m beginning to suspect that it takes a lifetime of opening ourselves up to the strength found in weakness to even begin to understand a power that’s spilled out in love. And maybe, just maybe, this is the true path to joy.