THE WEIGHT of POWER
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
APRIL 3, 2011
“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (I Cor. 4:20)
Admittedly, this is a strange title. I “heard” it in Spirit, but because of my sister’s surgery and related matters occupying my time, nothing else came to me until now. Jesus proclaimed that “all power in heaven and on earth is given to me” (Matt. 28:18), and John proclaimed that He is the “atonement for the sins of the whole world.” (I Jo. 2:2) All this power equals all responsibility, which is a very great weight indeed! He brought the kingdom of God to earth in power as evidenced by the many miracles He and the Disciples performed in the First Century, and by the major and minor miracles done in our lives every day. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is often the first evidence of God’s power on earth that many of us witness. Watching Him work is truly a mesmerizing experience, even addictive, I’d have to admit. There has been a longing in me from the time He baptized me in the Spirit, to witness His hands at work, as He goes about delivering His children from physical and mental illness, financial and spiritual poverty, and the ravages of sin and neurotic stuff we bear.
Lest we forget, scripture proclaims that God brings everything to us, the good, the bad, the painful, and the joyful. He does not capriciously give us grief one day and rejoicing the next. EVERYTHING He brings to us is for our good and His glory, no matter what it looks like, feels like, or seems to be in our flesh. It is in the valleys and cactus patches that we find out how powerful, loving, and merciful our Father really is. The Hebrew children weren’t delivered until they were inside the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar was amazed when he looked into the inferno: “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Dan. 3:25)
He called to them to come out, and when they did, “they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Vs. 27-28) God had gifted them faith, and because of it, the Hebrew children had told the king they would never fall down and worship him, which is why he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter. In response to their God given faith, He came through for them, delivering them gloriously and majestically.
While most of us have not had such a dramatic delivery, many of us have seen the power of God at work in our lives. When we lived in our house in Carlisle Canyon, CA, God did a similar thing on a smaller scale. We were beginning to feel the pinch of a financial down turn in 1993, and had rented out the house on the top part of our ten acre property to a yuppie couple from Manhattan. We were eating and sleeping in a tiny travel trailer on the bottom half of the land, with a metal storage shed next to it to put our clothes and other essentials in. With all the stress of living like this, I hadn’t checked with our insurance company to see if the trailer was covered by our homeowner’s insurance. It was not.
After the fire had roared through the canyon like a freight train, the fire captain allowed us back in. There had been a fire engine at every house, but we didn’t find out until we got there that our home had survived the flames. It was amazingly fine: only a little orange foam on the pool to show that the fire fighters had well and truly earned their keep. The landscape all around the house was charred as was the giant pine tree outside the kitchen door. The house was perfect.
We walked down the hill past the scorched piles of lumber burned to ashes, and our kids’ car which was parked down there awaiting some minor repairs. It was burned down to the metal tire rims. When we got on down and over to where our little trailer stood, I almost couldn’t look, thinking that it would be burned to the ground. By this time, I knew the insurance wouldn’t cover it.
What I saw caused me to burst into tears. The fire had swept up from the canyon floor, had gone around the oak tree under which our trailer and metal shed sat, and the two arms of the flames had joined up above our little home, and had burned all the way to the top of the mountain. It was like a mighty angel stood down there with his arms spread wide, saying, “You can burn there and there, but not here. It is protected by the power of Almighty God.”
I sobbed for a long time before I could pull myself together and join Lenny who was checking the inside of the trailer and the shed. All our things were unscathed, and what’s more, there was not even the smell of smoke in the trailer or in our clothes in the shed. Everything outside was turned to ash and cinders.
That was an awesome, unforgettable, wonderful, joyous experience for me and it sealed in my soul the fact that God still works miracles. His power is as strong and mighty as it ever was. This is why, when we were struggling to keep our house out of foreclosure a few years later, I couldn’t believe He would take the house. I just knew that He would come in, like the marines at the last minute, and save the day for us. That, however, was Jan’s faith at work, not God’s, because He did take our house, thus beginning the greatest adventure of our lives.
He called us here to Neosho, MO, in May, 1998, and The Glory Road began to be a real highway for us, taking us into God’s abiding presence. The power of God is real, ever present, and eternal, but it is not dispensed at our bidding or our will, only by His will and command. Seeing Him withhold a miracle when we know He can deliver one, is our share of the weight of power. He bears the ultimate weight of power along with the ultimate responsibility for all things in our lives (Rom. 11:32), which makes the burden easier to bear when He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want.
Jesus knew that as well, when He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Lk. 22:42-44) The Hebrew writer points us to Jesus, “as the pioneer and protector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) Moreover, we are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6), which means that in HIM, we have access to God in ways that we never knew possible.
My sister has had serious and complicated knee surgery. She came through the operation all right, but the pain that accompanies it is horrific. Worse, she was told that she has a staph infection which will require daily IV antibiotics for six weeks. Lenny and I had prayed God would heal her directly to spare her this second surgery on the same knee, but the Lord told me beforehand that “the people aren’t ready for it.” I have known for decades that God’s will is done, and that He truly works everything after the counsel of His own will. Healing and other miracles are not about my faith. They are a result of the faith that He gives to us. I didn’t feel like a failure when He didn’t heal her directly, but I was disappointed because she has suffered so much with this knee. However, I believe He is working this for good and emotional healing to the entire family.
God does “work all things for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” When it doesn’t work out the way we want, we know that the purpose of all God’s actions in our lives is to conform us “to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:28-29) In the end, we will be justified and glorified in Christ. To me, that is a good description of the joy which comes after the cross we often must bear.
Thank You Father, for your love and power. You hold everything and everyone in the palm of Your hands. We wait upon You to work out Your perfect will in our lives. Help us, Lord, O help us Lord, to wait. Amen.