The construction GPS unit I use for my job is being temperamental at the moment.
It’s not really anyone’s fault. The way the thing works is that in addition to the satellite receiver in a conventional GPS device like a satnav or something, it has a base station set up on a known point to transmit those coordinates. When it’s working, this allows a positional accuracy of about half an inch horizontally and almost an inch vertically, which is plenty close enough for the excavation we do.
My problem comes because the base station I’m using on this job is quite a long way away. Too far for the little antenna on my GPS unit to get a reliable signal.
Until yesterday, we had a repeater unit set up on the temporary job trailer that the General Contractor have been using, but we have “permanent” portacabin jobsite field offices going in, and the General Contractor have pulled the power to the temporary trailer.
It’s a pain, because it makes my job extremely difficult, but it got me thinking about the Holy Spirit’s empowering, and what happens when we try to operate without it.
In my workplace, I have all the equipment and training I need to do my job, but without power it’s useless.
The Holy Spirit is much the same way. Jesus promised the disciples that “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.
Trying to do the job of being a witness to the fact that Jesus is alive without the power that the Spirit gives is fairly futile. We may have all of the God-given talents and skills we need, but without power it’s not really going to get us anywhere.
It’s easy in our humanness and tendency to focus on what is seen rather than what is unseen to miss just how vital the Holy Spirit’s empowering truly is. We think we can do it ourselves, if maybe not quite as well without His help. We have the right equipment in the shape of our gifts and talents – some of them look more directly supernatural than others, but a lot of the gifts even on the I Corinthians 12 list feel a good deal more “ours” than the Spirit’s.
But without power, even the gifts of the Holy Spirit don’t do a thing.
In the modern world it’s difficult to overstate how much we all depend on having power. We surround ourselves with computers and phones and electric lights and kitchen appliances and everything else. Even our screwdrivers are powered as often as not.
It’s a good picture of the spiritual realm. Whether we realise it or not, we are just as dependent on power there as in our everyday lives. When Jesus said “without Me you can do nothing”, He wasn’t using hyperbole. It’s literally true.
Even on a physical level, we and all of the rest of the universe are sustained moment by moment by the Word of His power. And spiritually, the power of God the Holy Spirit not only enables us for ministry but quickens us for the life of the age to come and gives life to our mortal bodies.
It’s an awfully dependent position to be in, and our pride doesn’t like it at all. But guess what? God isn’t really interested in pandering to our pride. It’s yet another example of our needing to get over ourselves and stop thinking we have something of our own.
As the old hymn says, “Nothing in my hand I bring”.