The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)
When I was 13 years old, I had the opportunity to become one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in the state of NJ. Somehow, I got inspired to rack up all the merit badges required to receive the highest rank in scouting and only one thing remained a service project. Most of the Eagle Scouts who came before me had done the same project, paint the barn behind the church in town. I didn't like the idea of doing the same thing as everyone else and wanted to try something different. I decided my project would be to paint an H on the street in front of every fire hydrant in town so emergency vehicles could easily find hydrants. This was a more ambitious project than I imagined needing to get the mayor, police department, and fire department coordinated and to ensure the safety of all who participated. It was a nightmare for an introvert like myself who found creative ways to avoid uncomfortable social situations. After a few meetings and some difficulty coordinating with the town, I felt as though I had taken on more than I could handle.
There was a running joke during the celebration ceremony when an Eagle Scout received his rank. The father of the boy was often largely responsible for ensuring the project got completed so Dad was honored as well with some humorous statements during the ceremony. I did not want my project to continue the running theme that Dad was really the one responsible for completing the project so I largely refused my father's help and guidance. You can imagine my frustration where my pride kept me from getting help and yet I selected a project that was beyond my ability. If only I would have humbled myself and asked for my Dad's help, I would have received the rank of Eagle but more importantly, learned the important lesson of my need for grace and help that would have served me well in the years to come. Grace is when God moves in our lives to do that which we ourselves cannot. It was not my weakness that kept me from succeeding but my strength and pride that kept me from receiving grace.
Now we as children of God have been given the greatest task known to humankind, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations and yet we are clearly not up for the task. Having the privilege to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most wonderful thing God could have given us to do! We get to be a part of His plan to set people free from bondage and to have life with God eternally in paradise. The Spirit of God kindles a fire within us to want to do this yet we also need this same Spirit to complete the task. We need grace to accomplish what we have been asked to do. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us and renew us day by day.
Leading up to Pentecost, Jesus instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came from the Father. He knew that sharing the gospel among the nations was too big for His disciples and they needed the Holy Spirit's presence and power to do this. The time between Jesus' ascension and the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a time of waiting and prayer. This act of obedience in waiting for the promise of divine help was really an acknowledgment that without the Spirit of God, they could not do what they were called to! This calling to share the gospel remains and God wants us to know that we can't do this without Him either! At the celebration of the righteous before God when the awards ceremony happens to honor those who were faithful to Jesus, the running joke will continue that without Dad we would not and could not have done anything. We were born to be working in partnership with God and letting His life flow in and through us and He, in the end, is the only one worthy of glory and honor forever and ever. We need to be continually filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot trust in our own strength, ability, and ingenuity, but grace alone. We can't do this..but in Christ Jesus by the power and presence of the Spirit, we can do all things He has called us to do!
So as we pray daily and ask His Spirit to renew us day by day, let us humble ourselves knowing that we need God, we need His direction, we need His life-changing power to work in us and through us. Working with God is and should be our greatest heart's desire and only through His Spirit can we hope to have any impact. Now if you have a desire to serve God and yet see your own lack and need for divine help through His Spirit pray this prayer along with me. Lord, you are almighty and I am not. Come again to your servant and fill me again with your Holy Spirit. I wait upon you and don't want to do anything without you. Show me your power and glory and renew me by your grace and mercy. In Jesus Name, Amen.