One of the many qualities coveted in this world is power. If you have ever been picked on because of what you wear, how you look or the way you say things, you understand the feeling of not having power. It has always amazed me how quickly fear, self-doubt and insecurities take root in our hearts and minds when we are made to feel powerless. I do not know how many of you have felt this way. I have and I know that who I have become and how I respond has been shaped by the these experiences.
So, what does power have to do with Lent? I have come to see that power is something we must steward in much the same way we take care of our monetary resources, gifts and talents. The amount of power we have may be determined by many factors, but in the end the issue is what will we do when we have it. However, there is a second issue connected with our possession of this influence. We also have to ask ourselves what will we not do when we have it.
One of my favorite examples of this is in the movie Bruce Almighty. In the movie, Bruce feels that God is picking on him and challenges God to show himself by “smiting” him. God takes up the challenge and gives Bruce his all of his powers. Bruce thinks this is all a joke, as well he should. What happens next, and what can only be illustrated in a movie, is Bruce indulges in his new found abilities. He gives himself everything he wants, and he still does not achieve the satisfaction and happiness he thought would come. Unfortunately for Bruce, his image of power was more like Zeus (lightning bolt in hand) than it was like the God of the bible.
By the end film, Bruce learns that having all-power does not guarantee joy. As a matter of fact having unhindered powers may actually get in the way unless and until there are controls and restraints on the exercise of the power. The irony in Bruce’s experience, and in life outside of the silver screen, is that true power comes through the exercise of restraint and not merely in the unfettered expression of power.
Do you have power? Or does your power have you? If it’s the second, you are not really as powerful as you have let yourself believe.