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There was an account of some engineers many years ago on the coast of New Jersey. The bridge they were building was over the mouth of a river that emptied into the Atlantic Ocean.
As they were putting down the pilings on their way across the river, they came to a place where they found the massive hulk of an old wooden ship buried deep into the soft sand at the bottom of the river.
They realized that to keep the configuration of the bridge moving along the proper route, they had to remove that hulk. So, they applied every mechanical means to pry it and pull it up, to lift it out, all to no avail.
It was at this point that a young engineer offered his suggestion. He asked if he might have permission to design a way to remove the old wooden hulk.
Here’s what he did: he called for barges to be brought in, and from those barges, he hooked heavy chains and heavy cords to the hulk during low tide. As the tide came into the mouth of the river and the barges began to move upward, the ship slowly loosened from the sand.
When the tide went back out, they would tighten the cords and chains down again as tightly as they could, and the next time the tide came in and lifted the barges, the ship was loosened a little more until finally it was pried entirely free.
The account went on to say that what the machinery of man could not accomplish, the tides had accomplished. Similarly, that is the reality of life: what we cannot do in the flesh, God can do by the power of His Spirit.
This reality is the message of Paul to young minister Timothy in 2 Timothy 2. Without divine enablement, Timothy would be functioning in his human strength; he would be weak, with no courage.
Timothy would be failing to use his gift in the fullness of its capacity; he would be fearful of the enemies he’s facing while ministering there in Ephesus, where he was when Paul wrote him this letter.
And so, Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
By virtue of your union with Christ, because you are connected to Christ, the moving of the Holy Spirit is the power in your life.
This is a powerful word for Timothy and also for you and me. Timothy was in a problematic ministry; the church at Ephesus had ungodly behavior and unbiblical theology. Christians were under the threat of persecution from Rome.
Timothy was a young leader; some said he was too young to be a leader. Paul tells him not to let men despise his youth. Many battles were going on, and human resources were inadequate for the job.
While the details may differ, that is often the case in our lives. With difficulty from within and without, we cannot make it on our strength; don’t depend on your strength alone, but instead receive the power of God.
Rely on God’s spiritual strength simply because our human resources fail; they are inadequate.
When life makes you weak and weary, discouraged and disillusioned – which it will because this life is hard, and we have limited strength; when life pushes you past your ability, we need to remember this word – rely on Christ’s supernatural power.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.