“…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Eph. 6:10 (NASB)
It was cold, wet, and dreary. Dark grey, heavily sodden clouds filled the sky. The rain continued to fall unabated that spring for weeks. Coupled with late snow and warmer weather, the Cowlitz river that meandered through the valley overflowed well beyond its banks. The creeks, usually only a few feet deep, were transformed into dark brown and green silt-filled torrents dragging dead fir, pine, and other debris along its path. Whatever the creek couldn’t take, it destroyed or worked around.
I recall standing alone on a small bridge that was only about 20 feet above the creek bed during average rainfall. Now the water abutted the bridge’s base behind me, the murky brown and green water gently swirling in deceptive tiny circles. But, in front of me, white water sprayed from the water’s pressure behind the bridge. I could feel the bridge vibrate under my feet. I recall an uneasy feeling as I peered over both sides, watching with amazement at the power of the water and the inability of the small bridge to control the water. Regardless of engineering skill, the small bridge upon where I stood a few days earlier eventually failed. The bridge was unable to control or restrain the relentless pressure and water weight.
People assert they want freedom, freedom from something, or to do something. But if we look deeper, it comes down to control. Individuals seem to believe, once in possession of power or knowledge, they, through their strength, creativity, education, or legal posturing, control– have power over–those external or internal forces, thereby freeing themselves of its hold. Like the small bridge, hold back the weight allowing sufficient water to pass through and avoid collapse. Successful, to some degree, yet, it is only temporal as we generally overlook – or avoid – the deeper aspect of a problem. Despite what people maintain, the common theme is we want the reins of our existence and others. We believe we can master—independently control the surging torrent regardless of its weight, depth, debris, or current.
Paul clearly illustrates the source of power and strength. It is God himself who holds power to fight—and win (Eph. 6:10). No human power, independent of God, can stop the devil’s schemes, but God has already disarmed rulers and authorities and put them to shame (Col. 2:15). To believe we have the independent rein of our existence and control or power to change ourselves and others ignores the actual condition. Outside of the work of Christ, independent of Him, we are like the small bridge, under the weight of torrential water, awaiting structural collapse.
When Paul calls the believers in the Church in Ephesus – and all believers – to be strong, is he speaking of being strong in our might and strength? No. We know we are powerless to change our spiritual condition – despite the world’s constant claim to the contrary. Here, the Apostle Paul is pointing us to the divine Spirit of God. We do not inwardly generate or outwardly marshall our power. It is His power working through us. (Eph. 3:20 ESV)
We must recognize some problems we face have a spiritual dimension—some would argue many, if not all. We need to seek the Lord in prayer and be led by His Spirit. The enemy understands our weaknesses as humans and will seek to exploit them so we will collapse. Even at our best, we are weak and need God’s strength. We must realize the power and its source and prepare ourselves.
We must realize and not forget the source of true power and control. The Lord. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in believers. By the Holy Spirit, we have wisdom and discernment, and He empowers Christians to fight and win spiritual battles. Our earthly struggles have eternal and spiritual ramifications. Let our problems not reflect that we are too busy to pray and too busy to have power.
But let our lives reflect we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us. Under the weight of torrential rain, only those adequately equipped bridges can handle such weight and force.
When the rains fall and the weight increases, look to Him.
He withstood the weight of the torrent of sin.