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Transfer of Power

I had the Presidential Inauguration playing in the background. There is always a lot of talk about the transfer of power during the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Although the transfer of administrations in America is a wonderful testament to our form of government, my thoughts were not occupied with the transfer of power that was taking place.

Transfer of Responsibility

I was struck with the transfer of responsibility that occurred. As President Obama and the First Lady sat through the ceremony and then boarded the helicopter to resume life as public citizens once more, I wondered if they felt relieved by the transfer of responsibility from themselves to President Trump and his wife.

Feeling the Weight

I put myself in President Trump’s position. The Office of the Presidency of the United States has an enormous weight of responsibility. I feel for the level of scrutiny the President must endure. I feel for the great weight of obligation and duty a President is tasked. Decisions must be made that literally have life or death consequences.

Capability and Responsibility

A weight of responsibility is calculated by the aptitude of the person in the given position. I remember in the 5th grade playing at a friend’s house and seeing his high school age sister doing homework at their kitchen table. I looked at her textbook and wondered how I would ever be able to do the work she was required to do. Thankfully I was not being asked as a 5th-grader to the work of a high-schooler. Also thankfully, my aptitude grew as I faced the responsibilities of high school.

Bearing the Weight

As I look at the “textbook” a President is assigned, I feel the same way as I did looking at my friend’s sister doing her homework. My aptitude does not match the weight of responsibility of the Presidency. I am not interested in delving into whether President Trump has the capability to bear the weight of responsibility that is required. He has far greater experience and knowledge than I do. I am grateful for anyone willing to step under that weight.

An Unknown Weight

The weight of responsibility is always an unknown quantity until the situation calls for it. The circumstances and events to be faced are yet future, so it is yet to be calculated the exact weight of responsibility. Wouldn’t it be great to know that ability would always match the responsibility of every circumstance? For yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to know your capacity could match whatever you had to face? 

A Known Capability

What if there was someone with boundless aptitude? What if there was someone who possessed all strength, energy, knowledge, and foresight? That person could face any situation with total confidence. That person could be fully trusted with any responsibility. There would be no question as to whether that person could bear the weight of responsibility. 

Infinite Capability

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28)

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What problem or situation are you facing today? Perhaps there is a personal, relational, or financial circumstance before you. Your frame of reference will determine the ease or difficulty of navigating it. What is your standard for judging or deciding what you are to do? What is your guideline or touchstone for focusing your perspective?

For the work which we are engaged in the church our touchstone is God. One cannot start with a larger frame of reference. However, often we fail to attend to what God may be doing in our work.

Chapter 10 in John’s Gospel has been an orienting text for me recently. It provides all the elements for properly calibrating perspective.

  • The reality of opposition
  • The entry of a hero
  • Trust built upon sacrifice
  • Trust built upon security

The thief comes. Problems pop up. Challenges arise. Granted, not every difficulty is from the evil one. But God has opposition to his work in the world. As we participate in what God is doing we can expect the same. We should never forget that.

More importantly, Jesus has come. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” There is a kind of abundant life that God has come to bring you. Dallas Willard says, “Life is the power to act and respond in specific kinds of relations.” He gives the illustration of the different kinds of life between vegetables, animals, people, and God. If a ball of string was set in front of a head of cabbage there would be no interaction because the kind of life in cabbage cannot relate to a ball of string. If that ball of string was set before a kitten there would be interaction because the kitten is full of the life of play. Set a poem in front of the kitten and there would be no response, because animals are dead to the realm of poetry. But a person can respond to poetry. Similarly, a relationship with God is necessary to respond to the abundant life Jesus came to bring.

A common expression of how we respond to the life of God is hearing his voice. Relationship with God must have priority. This only comes by hearing God’s voice, being oriented to his perspective. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” God speaks. We know where we are and where we are going by God’s voice. There are competing voices and if we don’t have an ear for his voice we will be distracted or deceived and, at worse, destroyed.

God wants us to know what he is doing. John 10:14-15 says, “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” We can trust what God is doing, knowing he was willing to enter the problem.

We can be confident in God’s work and that we are being brought toward his permanent purpose. John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” God has a secure grip on you. You are destined for life with God. You can trust your life in God’s hand.

Whatever circumstance is before you today, how does calibrating it to the purposes of God change your perspective?

1. Room for only small thoughts of God

2. Calvin’s metaphor of the ladder

3. God can’t be kept out