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The Power To Do by Kimberly Reisman

Scripture Focus:

Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper; he was at dinner when a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on his head. Some who were there said to one another indignantly, “Why this waste of ointment? Ointment like this could have been sold for over three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor;” and they were angry with her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her? What she has done for me is one of the good works. You have the poor with you always, and you can be kind to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what was in her power to do: she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. I tell you solemnly, wherever throughout all the world the Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told also, in remembrance of her.” (Mark 14:3-9, The Jerusalem Bible)


Last month we focused on discovering God’s created purpose for our lives – our Kingdom niche. Integral to that process is the issue of power. If we’re to gain a sense of God’s plan, we must also gain a sense of our power. We may not always feel it, but God has given each of us inner power – the ability to achieve purpose. History has shown society’s tendency to try to take aware our sense of power – sometimes by deception, sometimes by sheer force. Yet God has given us a gift of power, and recognizing it is crucial to finding our Kingdom niche.

Discerning our inner power enables us to act boldly in the present as we seek to faithfully follow Jesus. As we exercise our power in the present, we’re also able to worry less about the future, knowing that God is guiding that future. Helen Bruch Pearson describes the connection between our inner power and our daily lives in her reflections about the witness of Scripture. She writes, “The voices of my unnamed sisters from long ago in the Gospel have taught me to be less anxious about tomorrow when I have done what is in my power to do today.” [1]

Do what you have the power to do today. Even after all the years since reading Pearson’s book, that phrase has stuck with me. It comes from the story about the woman who anointed Jesus with oil, our theme Scripture for this month. This woman acted boldly. She entered a gathering to which she had not been invited. She broke the rigid social constraints and protocol that restricted women’s behavior during that time in history. She asserted herself enough to touch and anoint Jesus without asking. She realized somehow that the time to do something for Jesus was quickly passing. If she was to act in any way, she had to act now. But what could she do? She was only a woman, with little or no power of her own. But as Jesus said, she did what was in her power to do; “she poured a senseless amount of precious perfumed ointment of Jesus’ head.” [2]

Each of us – women and men – has the power to do something – something that is uniquely ours to do. We may not be able to do very much, or we may be able to do a great deal. The amount is irrelevant. God asks only that we do what we have the power to do.

The good news is that our power is always magnified by God’s power. Our inner power, which is itself a gift from God, is augmented by God’s own power. When I had been in ministry only a few years, I attended an evangelism conference. It was a powerful experience. I was surrounded by talented people who were doing exciting things for God. The conference closed with dynamic worship that ended in a time of group prayer with people spontaneously offering their prayers aloud.

As more people prayed, I had the intense feeling of God’s presence – not just in the service but within me. I realized what I was currently doing was not all that God had in store for me. As the praying continued the spiritual depth in the room overwhelmed me. I felt completely out of my league and overcome by an intense feeling of unworthiness and inability. I felt utterly ill-equipped to do what I felt God was calling me to do – reach out to non-Christians and nurture the spirits of newcomers to the faith.

In that moment I was ready to abandon the entire thing: I wanted to get out of that room as quickly as I could. But then I felt the full weight of God’s power on me; I couldn’t move. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t budge; I had to sit down.

With people standing and praying all around me, I heard God’s word to me, “None of that matters. You may be ill-equipped. I know you do not have all the ability. But none of that matters. You will do what you are able, and I will do the rest. I am your source of power and strength. It is not you who is working; it is me working through you.”

As time has passed, the power and truth of God’s words have become clear. My ministry has unfolded in ways that have affirmed God’s power to work through me. I am doing what I am able; and God continues to be faithful in doing the rest.

We all have a life purpose, created by God especially for us. God has been crafting it for you since you were born, wiring you in a particular way, giving you special gifts and talents. Following Jesus is about receiving the guidance we need, and doing what we have the power to do. When we’re open to that, we receive God’s power to sustain and strengthen us. In this way we’re able to make strong connections between our faith and our daily lives, act on those connections, and find the niche in the Kingdom that only we can fill.

As you pray and fast this month, remember that the scope of our abilities is always magnified by God’s power. There is always room for God to use us to do great and tremendous things – things that we never thought we could do. Those great things, however, are often composed of many smaller things, things that are in our power to do.

My prayer for you this month is that you would begin to see the way your current activities fit into the larger work of God. That you would come to discover the way God desires to use all the “small” things that comprise your daily life as part of his overall Kingdom plan. And that as you follow Jesus, you would indeed, do what you have the power to do.




[1] Helen Bruch Pearson, Do What You Have the Power to Do: Studies of Six New Testament Women, Upper Room Books, 1992, p12.

[2] Pearson, p46.