“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” – Zechariah 4:6
Growing up, I played a lot of baseball in the backyard with my dad and older brother. There was just one problem: I wasn’t that good. Being that I was only 4 or 5 years old, I had trouble actually hitting the ball. I would swing and miss more times than not, no matter how hard I tried.
I remember banging the bat on the ground and crying out in frustration, “I can’t do this!”
Do you know what my Dad would do? He would come and stand behind me, wrap his arms around mine, to help me get a firm grip on the bat. With his assistance, we would hit the ball together. I wouldn’t merely make contact with the ball; I would clobber it!
Now that I’m a middle-aged adult facing a myriad of responsibilities and taxing challenges, the stakes are much higher than a backyard baseball game. Yet, as I look back upon those summer afternoons, I recognize they taught me a lasting lesson about the Holy Spirit. Allow me to explain by reflecting on Zechariah 4.
Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah at the time, was tasked with leading the massive effort of rebuilding the temple. A few years into the project, progress had stalled. The Israelites had faced one trial after another. They were physically depleted and spiritually discouraged. Confronted with the overwhelming magnitude of the task, Zerrubabel had exhausted his leadership capabilities. He was thinking of giving up.
Enter Zechariah. His words to Zerubbabel were a refreshing source of encouragement. Not only was he assuring Zerubbabel that the rebuilding would get done, but he was telling him how it was going to be possible. Not by human ingenuity, nor by sheer willpower, but by the Spirit of God.
Just as my Dad enabled me to hit the ball all those years ago, the Spirit was going to empower Zerrubabel to do something he could not do in his own strength.
A weary Zerubbabel was crying out, “I can’t!”
Zechariah reminded him, “But He can.”
Perhaps your soul needs the same reminder today.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we have His Spirit residing in us 24/7 (Ephesians 1:13,14). The Christian life is not meant to be one of self-reliance but of Spirit-reliance. We certainly possess skills, talents, intellect, resources, experience, etc. Yet, they are not to be our chief modus operandi. We are to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:25). As we go about our daily lives, we must choose a perpetual posture of dependence on the Spirit of God.
Today, when you are faced with the limitations of your natural abilities, whether in a situation big or small, confess your need for His Spirit to do what you cannot. In other words, let Him swing the bat. He will enable you to do what you can’t do on your own.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH