Waiting on the World to Change
Not too long ago I sat down with a fellow-Christian for breakfast who told me in no uncertain terms, "The vision you have for Laconia will never happen." He happened to be upset at me anyway so his statement was a little tainted by frustration, but what he said is important. I don't believe it is true, but I do believe it is important. His statement reflects a negative form of powerlessness common in the world today.
In 2006 John Mayer released his single "Waiting on the World to Change". The song won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Grammy Awards. The song is a commentary on the state of the world and our generation's feeling of powerlessness to change it.
Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it
This feeling of powerlessness is what many people felt during Donald Trump's presidential campaign this year. Over time people began to realize that no matter what good they did to defeat him or what bad he did to defeat himself, still Donald Trump could not be beat. This is powerlessness. It is the realization that all things are out of your control and that nothing you do, good or bad, matters.
Is the feeling of powerlessness inevitable? Is it true that all we can do is sit around and wait for the world to change? Is it true that even when we have done every good thing we thought to do the world could still remain the same?
The powerlessness seen in the world today is mostly negative because it results in the mighty exertion of power. I feel powerless so I grab the most powerful object I can think of, a gun, and go to town. I feel powerless so I allow rage to grow in my heart toward those who have hurt me. This gives me a sense of power over them as I orchestrate in my mind doing to them what they did to me. I feel powerless so I increase my posts to Facebook making them increasingly hostile towards the people or entities I feel we are all at the mercy of. Our powerlessness today surfaces in violent, angry outbursts that serve to give us a temporary feeling of control and power, but still the world does not change. In fact it gets worse. This feeling of powerlessness is not reserved to the people in low positions either.
Country singer Kenney Chesney has a brand new release called "Noise". What's most intriguing about this song is Kenney's own feeling of powerlessness.
Twenty-four hour television, get so loud that no one listens
Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk
But there really ain't no conversation
Ain't nothing left to the imagination
Trapped in our phones and we can't make it stop, stop
The noise, the chaos, the constant motion won't stop, stop, stop no matter what we do. But the chorus is the kicker:
Yeah we scream, yeah we shout 'til we don't have a voice
In the streets, in the crowds, it ain't nothing but noise
Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy
Just trying be heard in all this noise
Kenney Chesney, a man with more power and more of a voice than 95% of the world still feels he is powerless. The state of the world is "Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy".
What would God have us do with this feeling of powerlessness? 6 things:
Bask in it. Powerless is what God wants us to feel. He does not want to free us from that feeling; He wants us to feel it more and more acutely. People who feel powerful do not think they need God. People who feel powerless have no doubt! Step 1 of Celebrate Recovery says, "We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors and our lives had become unmanageable." This step is an essential first step in recovery. It cannot be bypassed or skipped over. It must be realized and embraced. In the same way my community and I will certainly never change if we do not bathe in our powerlessness with content.
Do not try to become powerful. Do not take matters into your own hands in the prideful assertion that you are going to change the world. You can't. You are powerless. What you can do, however, is surrender everything in your power to the Kingship of Christ: your job, your money, your downtime, your home, your feelings, your thoughts, your aspirations and your relationships. If you do that you invite God to do powerful things through you. Are all of those things in your life surrendered to Jesus' control? Do you do some of them for Him and some of them for selfish-ambition? Do you go to work to make money or do you go to work for Jesus? Do you provide security monitoring to your company's website to pay your bills or do you provide security monitoring to your company's website to protect people from harm trusting God to pay your bills? Do you do what you do to serve or do you do what you do to get? Do not try to become powerful; try to give Jesus increased power over everything under your control.
Make powerlessness the vocabulary of your prayers. Get kiddish with God. He is a Father, you are a child. Foster that relationship. My frequent prayer to my Father is, "Lord I am Your child and I do not know what I need. Maybe I need food right now; maybe I need a knap. I don't know. Would You please give me what You think I need as Your child?" This for me says, 'Lord I need You. I am powerless.' Build such wording into your prayers.
Pray for a spirit of powerlessness to come over your community. Intercede for your community, but be careful! Do not pray, "Lord my community is completely messed up, please fix them." Do not exclude yourself from the messed-up-ness of your community. You are sinful too and you have contributed to its problems even if you don't see how at the moment. People begin to change, communities begin to change when they admit their powerlessness and need for Christ and not when they finally drum up the gumption to do something about the problems of the world. Prideful exertion of power only creates more problems.
Do not fear the future or the present or the next election. We are powerless, this is true. But God is in control. We do not need to raise children who are afraid of the bad stuff in the world. Instead we need to raise children with the God-given courage to engage a dark world in the admission that we are powerless but Christ is not!
Accept power, do not seek power. When we set out to be powerful or to climb certain ladders, it will go bad with us. But if we seek to surrender every one of our talents to Christ chances are we will be asked to lead. When asked to lead at work, at home, on the school board, for your political party, in Little League, etc., accept that invitation and lead well.
If you feel powerless today...good. You should. Do not fight it. Rest in it knowing that only when we are weak can Jesus be strong in us.
In anticipation and excitement for sharing the Gospel of Jesus every week in Laconia~ shaun