What You Cannot Do

Have you ever thought about the power that man has?

Man can create, organize, build, and achieve but man can also destroy. Man’s power to destroy is constantly on display. From bomb marked city-scapes to scandals that take down entire corporations, there seems no end to man’s power to destroy. Man can also destroy marriages, friendships, families, and themselves.

Frederick Buechner points out that man’s power, as great as it is, only works from the outside, externally. “A man has power from the outside to push, pull, prod, and mold other men to his liking, for his good or for theirs, but it is only the outside of these other men that his power can affect.” Buechner goes on to illustrate that the most powerful person in the world, as great as this person’s influence and control, still couldn’t satisfy the deepest longing of his own personal soul or that of anyone else’s. The longing that each of us has for love, for deep peace, and meaning can never be satisfied by man’s efforts, no matter the autonomy, freedom, or power. “All man’s power is powerless because at its roots, of course, the deepest longing of the human soul is the longing for God, and this no man has the power to satisfy.”

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The Bible makes the bold claim that God is love. Dwell on that claim for a second. If this is true then all forms of love that we have as humans, as distorted as they may be, does not come from ourselves but are a reflection of God’s love. In other words, love is not one of man’s powers. Man can only yield its power externally but cannot reach into the heart, to our deepest selves, only God can do that. This is his power to satisfy and to bring true healing, to bring life-giving love, to hold things together, to restore.

Trying to operate in man’s power to achieve what only God can bring will only cause your world to feel small, closed in, and dark. But the power of God’s love expands your world, opens you up to receive love from others, brings light to the dark, helps you get up when you are down and generates peace when it is nowhere to be found.

Ultimately, which would you rather have? Man’s power or God’s power?