As noted in a blog post from this past April (which can be read here: https://jimkane.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/empower-my-one-word-my-soul-reading-plan/ ) I have embarked on a re-reading journey of several books from the middle of May to the middle of August for the purpose of thinking through my One Word for 2013 – Empower.
When I last posted in early June just before my month break from writing, I shared some thoughts about being empowered by God and who this God is as I re-read AW Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy. A deep and solid book about the Godhead, I was reminded that the God who empowers me is not a buddy of mine but a wholly other Being who is above and beyond what I can fully comprehend.
Since those posts were written I have re-read Eugene Peterson’s classic A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Based on Peterson’s study of the Psalms of Ascents (Psalm 120-134) the book is one that has reminded me of shape and nature of Christian discipleship that is both the content and the goal of Empowerment.
His chapters on perseverance, hope, and obedience contained powerful reminders of key elements of discipleship and thus empowerment. Here are few quotes from those chapters:
“Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such reality that we acquire perseverance.” Page 133
“Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions… And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith.” Page 144
“Christian tramp well-worn paths: obedience has a history… For obedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race toward God’s promises… For all its interest in history the Bible never refers to the past as “the good old times.” The past is not, for the person of faith, a restored historical site that we tour when we are on vacation; it is a field that we plow and harrow and plant and fertilize and work for a harvest…We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal.” Pages 166, 168, and 170
What I take from this book regarding the issue and focus of empowerment this year is this: That God empowers us to live faithfully in the midst of and in spite of our moods. That to live empowered by God and for God is to walk in “well-worn paths” others have walked – faithfully and empowered. That living empowered is living empowered by a God who is a God of true hope.
In short, God empowers us to live steadily and faithfully.
But, as I turn to my next book, Keith Miller’s The Secret Life of the Soul, I am reminded that living empowered is to be aware of the deep inner battle within me between right and wrong; good and evil; that Sin is a serious threat to living empowered and it needs to be taken seriously; and to live empowered is to be aware of and involved in our inner life something, I think, we neglect so often in our contemporary situation.