I picked up my toothbrush, buttered it with my favorite paste, and began brushing my teeth. Manually.
But there I was, brushing my teeth with a powerless, electric toothbrush. Oh, it got the job done. But not in the manner that it was designed. Not as effectively as it was intended to do. Good enough? Probably not. Just ask my dentist.
Yes. I have an electric toothbrush, and I will never again revert to using a manual brush. Ever.
To go full confession on you that toothbrush had been dead for over a week! I had been using an electric toothbrush, one with sonic power, powerlessly. Why? How hard would it have been to get out its charger and char the battery? Why would I settle for less than when the power was readily available? Why, indeed.
Some days the power of my toothbrush isn’t the only power I ignore. Live without.
Too many times, I try to live my life in my own power. My own way. My own knowledge. My own capacity to love others. And, well, I will admit that the results are not impressive.
My way most often puts me first. My knowledge is more limited than I would like to admit, which makes my own understanding too narrow. And lastly, my capacity to love others well falls far too short.
And here’s the thing. God isn’t surprised. He knew this was our broken default. It’s why His plan for us included the Holy Spirit. The Person of Himself sent to us after Jesus had returned to the Father. The Person of God who lives within us. Comforts us. Teaches us. Reminds us. Empowers us to live a life worthy of our calling to follow Him.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”JOHN 14:26
But the Holy Spirit cannot empower us if we ignore Him. And oh, I often do exactly that.
Like the charger to my toothbrush, He is always there. Here. Waiting for us to admit we can do nothing apart from Him that is worth doing. We can acknowledge Him or ignore Him. We can, in humility, connect to Him or keep doing life powerlessly.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.JOHN 15:5
Our life with Christ isn’t a destination. No one arrives. If we’re breathing, we are in the process of becoming who we were created in Christ Jesus to be. But our unwillingness to surrender to the Holy Spirit stagnates that process. Slows it down. Makes life in a broken world even harder.
Friends, I invite you to join me in surrendering the need to do life in our own strength.
What might that look like? What might that require of us?
- Spend time alone with God. Make time to practice His presence. Laying aside your To Do Lists, your prayer lists, and even your Bible study workbook. Spend time in His presence. Feeling like it’s been too long since you have done so? He’s waiting. So, you’ve never spent time in His presence? No time like right now! Time with your Heavenly Father changes you!
- Read His word. Little bits at a time if necessary. Let the truth found in Its pages renew your mind. Replace old ways of thinking. Let it challenge what you think it is you really believe about God and His love for you. It will reshape your mind.
- As you learn more about God’s love for you, it becomes easier to align your heart – your will – with His. While we often focus on behavior (especially the behavior of others) it is our hearts that God wants. A heart surrendered to Him because we love Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” A surrendered heart leads to behavior change for all the right reasons.
- Loving God with all of you and loving others as Jesus has loved you. Those are Jesus’ greatest commandments. No one can do this apart from the Holy Spirit. And friends, we must intentionally surrender — our wants and our words — to Him, every moment of every day. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. It’s there we find our greatest joy, living a life empowered by the very Spirit of God.
This may be ovewhelming for some of you. It may be challenging for others. Just find a place to begin. For you. Right now. Start somewhere. (I would love to hear your comments down below.)
Now excuse me while I go plug in my toothbrush!