Not I

by Anna Hartge

By Pastor Kathleen Card

Author of Pray. Act. Pray Again.: A 40-Day Walk with God (with Dr. Dianne Martin)

From 1 Corinthians 15.10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me.”

So, I woke up recently with the words, “Not I” on my heart.  My search of scripture for that exact phrase revealed twenty places where it is used.  Joseph says it to the Pharaoh, the apostles use it to assure Jesus they will not forsake him, and even Judas uses it to deny betraying Jesus.  But none of those uses seemed to fit what was in my heart.  Then I happened upon the 1 Corinthians quote.  During a retreat, members of my staff and I were trying to convey how much we feel it is not what we decide to do that works in the church—but what God does in us.  We talked about how we really, at times, need to step aside and be still.

Now in a world that encourages us to “take charge” or “take control” this is complicated.  Waiting on the Lord, so to speak, can be used as a way to avoid work.  However, listening for God’s way is, in itself, a quiet task of reflection that will, as Paul describes, cause us to work harder. So my wake-up call, so to speak, fits right in with a call to prepare for a Holy Lent.  Not I, but Jesus will show us how His time walking to the cross has blessed us.  Not I, but Jesus will give us strength to complete this walk with him.  Not even we the church will accomplish any ministry if it is not undergirded by the power of God’s most holy Trinity.

So my challenge this day is to embrace the means of grace we receive through the Holy Fellowship of a Community of Faith—understanding that it is “Not We” who do good deeds, but the Power of God in us that enables us to work harder and brings us joy!

Recap Prayer and Challenge: Dear Lord, The church is one of many ways that you deliver your grace to us—help us to know that this work we do is not by our power—but by your power in us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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