There are currently two cars sitting in our driveway. But it wasn't so long ago that more cars than drivers huddled in front of our house. I don't say this with any sort of pride. Far from it. It's been a source of pain for me that we've accumulated vehicles, that we're 'that kind of people.' You know, the house that looks like it's running a used auto lot right from its front door. Counting the cars our kids drive, I figure we've owned upwards of 26 cars since we've been married--that's more than one a year. None of these cars has been a hot rod, and many have been very small indeed--like the Ford Festiva that Beve called "The Red Misquito"--and actually fit in! But we have had more than one gas guzzler over the years; our biggest was a conversion van, complete with sink, closet, and bed, which our kids loved. Once at a basketball tournament, E locked the keys in it, and Beve shoved 5th grader SK through the skinny sideways window over the bed. I couldn't believe she was small enough to fit, but she didn't even have to wiggle her non-existent hips, just turned her head and slid onto the bed.
These cars have used a whole lot of energy, I'm sorry to say. But we're consummate recyclers in every other way, really, we are. We even moved into town so the Beve wouldn't spend as much gas or time on the road. We've been using those curly light-bulbs since they first came on the market, buy the most energy-efficient appliances every time our old garage-sale ones fall apart. Our recycling bins overflow every week. I'm practically allergic to throwing away even the smallest piece of paper anymore. Not to defend us, or anything, I'm just saying, this is just the way we live. A few months ago, I heard a woman on some talk show say that the world could save a whole lot of paper if everyone just used one fewer paper napkins a day. I began shouting at the television. "Are you kidding me? Have you ever heard of cloth?" I mean, I grew up with cloth napkins, and my own carved napkin holder shaped like my initial. Used it every single meal. Still have it. We still use cloth. Actually, I don't see what the big deal is about it. It doesn't even seem like saving energy to me, but now that the world's all about saving energy, worried about power, I feel like a radical because we're so ahead of the curve to use cloth napkins. But these cars...they've burned a whole lot of energy over the years, and I feel badly about how we contributed to the energy crisis in this world.
But I think there's an opposite energy crisis in the Kingdom. I was reading the first chapter of 1Thessalonians this morning and came to these words: "For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit..." (1:4-5) The gospel comes with power and the Holy Spirit. When He comes, there's power. We can't be energy-savers, leave it for another day, 'quench the fire of the Holy Spirit.' He comes with power, and our lives are flooded with it. Paul is all about this power, I've become increasingly aware. In Ephesians 1:19, he tells us that the power available to us is the very power that raised Jesus from the dead. Seriously. Don't just take my word for it. Check it out. That's power like this world has never seen before or since, and it's ours for the taking. Stop a moment an imagine this power. The power that pulled Jesus, who died for our sins and went to hell with all those sins laid on His back, straight back into life--that very power is OURS, who belong to Christ. Can you breathe? I honestly can't quite breathe, thinking of this. I can't possibly just continue to sit here, write this blog, get up and finish the laundry, get to work on my revisions if this is true. Can I? The world, the whole world, was turned on its head by that power. What am I doing, sitting here in my robe?
But we live meager, energy-saving lives, and our faith is anemic as a result. It's like we turn off the power strip and then try to live for Him. The operative word in that last sentence is 'try'. That's how we know our power strip has been turned off. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, who came in flame and lives in power inside of you, longs to fill you up, and all you're doing is 'trying' to do what He wants. Like we're all just sitting here in our robes, metaphorically.
Across the world are people who have nothing. No cars, no running water, very few earthly possessions. But those among them who love Jesus also take Him at His Word. They get down on their knees to pray. When He says, "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do," they believe it. Paul says, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith. And I pray that you may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to Know the Love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." And they pray for this. They pray, with power, together, and they love each other. And what we could learn from them--what we CAN learn from them could change our world. We can't--we absolutely cannot conserve the power of the Holy Spirit. Get up with me. Let's take off our robes, take Him at His word. there's power to be spent here, people. What does God have for you today? Use up His power--there's a never-ending supply.