Servant power

The tour leader directed us to ponder "servant power" in contrast to Herod's imperial might as we visited Herodium, the magnificent palace by the noted first-century builder, Herod the Great, also the chosen site of his mausoleum.

Political might is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, while true servants wielding the awesome power of God are hard to find, and often found in a hard place. But as we gazed upon the excavations of Herod's splendor, buried for more than a thousand years (his tomb only unearthed in the past year or two), and heard how there remains no trace -- on the mount, anyway -- of his architectural garnishes (marble steps, columns), I couldn't help but think of Shelley's "Ozymandias." ("...And on the pedestal these words appear:`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains...." ) Herod matches his enormous hubris and his vanished empire. Then I consider the King of the Jews whom Herod tried to stamp out nearly before his life on earth began. And I consider the following of that humble king born in Bethlehem. Given enough patience, looks like servant power wins out after all.

That brought me back to the words a pastor in our group prayed over one of our speakers. "May he see a miracle here." How often do we use that language when we talk about the Middle East -- use it, and believe it? We speak of toiling for peace, hoping against hope, growing increasingly frustrated, sad, and desperate (North Americans, anyway. Seems some of the Palestinians have more hope than us, despite seeing more disheartening evidence daily). What if, instead of trying to accomplish peace through our efforts, we prayed for a miracle, prayed that God would move spectacularly, and that Jesus would receive all the glory?

This must be held in balance, of course, with the realization that we are Jesus' hands and feet. That when we pray, "your kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven," we are asking God to inspire us, challenge us, strengthen us, and above all, use us, to bring about his will. He cannot work without our obedience to his command. Yet what if we stopped expecting that we would accomplish the purposes of God? What if we just did our work with joyfulness and hope, leaving the results up to him? I dare say we would learn to trust, and learn to recognize God's hand in a whole new way.


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