Acts 3:12b  Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”


I have just returned from the service of ordination at the New England Annual Conference.  Each time I am in that service it brings me back to that incredible day when the Bishop of the Florida Conference laid his hands on my head and said, “Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, to order the life of the church, and to administer the Holy Sacraments.” 


It’s a ridiculous thing to accept, of course, and if it weren’t such a solemn and holy occasion, I would probably laugh out loud at the absurdity of receiving authority to do any such things.  Many times over many years I have complained to God, “I can’t do this!  I have no business trying to raise the spiritually dead to new life in Christ.  I can’t lead a church full of people anywhere except down to coffee hour.”  And every time I make that complaint to God, the response is the same.  “You’re right, Anne,” God replies, “you can’t.  But if you’ll lay your life at my feet, I can do it through you.”


That’s exactly where Peter and John are in this passage from Acts.  Peter and John have just healed a beggar who couldn’t walk.  All the people watching and even the man himself thinks that Peter and John are miracle workers, and they cling to them and stand in awe.  But Peter and John know better.  They know they couldn’t heal anybody if their own lives depended on it.  The work was God’s, they were just the channel through which that healing came.  It wasn’t about them.  It was about the glory of God.


Ironically, in the Old Testament reading from the same day in the Daily Walk (June 5, if you’re behind), King David is getting in trouble for forgetting that very principle.  It might seem odd to you that David is punished by God for taking a census.  It seems like a pretty harmless activity, and my genealogist’s heart is grateful that there are census records going back over a hundred years that I can reference.  But the purpose of the census in the early days of Israel was not to count all of the people for genealogy records, or even for taxes as was the case in Jesus’ day.  In the time of King David, a census was taken in order to count the number of men you could count on to fight in battle.


Well, what’s wrong with that?  Surely you would want to know before going to battle if you had enough men to win the fight.  Ah, but that’s just the point.  To count the men is to leave God out of the equation and to believe that you will win or lose according to your own strength.  That is not God’s way.  From Moses to Joshua to Gideon, God has made it plain that if God says “Go,” you will succeed, even if you are vastly outnumbered; and all the force and weaponry in the world won’t allow you to prevail if you have not gone at God’s bidding. 


David had that faith as a boy when he stood before King Saul and declared that the Lord had already helped him kill lions and bears who threatened his flocks and a mere Philistine giant would be no different, because the work was God’s.  David took down Goliath with a sling and a stone, but he knew he could have taken him down with a jellyfish because it was God’s doing, not his.  Now he is King and counting his men to be sure he has enough.  He has forgotten, just as we all do when fear creeps in and we think we are not up to the task God has set before us.


But the service today again reminded me that when God says, “Take thou authority” for whatever the task, God has already agreed to do the work.  We need only to lay our lives at God’s feet.


God who makes the impossible a reality, help us to be an open channel for your will and work.  Amen.



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