Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Power of Withdrawing

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit . . .
                                                                Luke 4:14a

After forty days in the wilderness, Jesus emerges with power, ready to begin his ministry. I think about the preparation that his time in the wilderness gave him. Would we ever think of withdrawing as a way to access power? I have heard many people say they were fearful that if they took time away from the activities (be it work, volunteer service or recreation) they would be forgotten, deemed nonessential, or would lose the discipline to show up.

Withdrawal seems so passive to us, and most of us don’t like to be passive. I remember several years ago hearing someone say he did not want to call a retreat by that name. Instead he wanted to use the word “advance.” Advance does sound more assertive than retreat, and we might think that advancing would make us more powerful. Withdrawing or retreating, stepping out of the fray of daily activity, may not seem like the way to power.

Our cultural tendency to grit our teeth and push forward as if we are superhuman is not the way of Jesus. If we want to follow Jesus, we have to cease our breakneck pace of life. We have to move with intention and attention. We have to stop, rest, withdraw and pray. To receive the power of the Spirit requires that we lay aside our own notions of power, our tendency to take matters into our own hands.

To follow Jesus, not run ahead of Jesus, requires that we trust that the Spirit will empower us, that we can withdraw, wait and rest, setting aside our arrogant notions of how things should be and instead entrusting God with our being and doing.

It is why following Jesus is so hard for us. We have to follow, not lead!

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