The wind and the sun once had an argument as to who was the most powerful. The sun smiled: ‘See how I can dry up the desert.’ ‘Pah!’ scoffed the wind. ‘That’s not power! Look at what I can do to the trees, even entire oceans. See how they tremble when I blow.’ As they were arguing, a man walked below them, dressed in an overcoat. ‘Tell you what,’ said the sun. ‘The one who can get the overcoat off the man wins.’
The wind agreed straightaway: ‘That’s easy – I’ll go first.’ And the wind blew. And blew. And blew some more. The man was nearly blown off his feet, but every time the wind blew, he wrapped his coat more tightly round his body than before.
After an hour, the wind was exhausted. ‘My turn, I think,’ said the sun, who appeared beyond a cloud and shone bright and beautiful in the sky. Within minutes the man mopped his brow and immediately took off his coat.
We humans love to exercise power. ‘Might is right’ is an old saying, and tragically common in its application. We battle in relationships, in committees, in government, against nations. We lift weights for our muscles, and play Sudoku for our brain power. We talk about willpower, horsepower, firepower, superpower… even flower-power! You want to get things done? You need power.
Or maybe not. Maybe in the crazy, upside-down, topsy-turvy kingdom of God, different rules apply. The prophet Zechariah was worried: how on earth was the temple going to be rebuilt? The Jewish exiles had returned to Israel, but they lacked the means to do what they believed God was calling them to do. They needed a plan, a strategy, they needed money and people, talents and resources… or did they?
God’s plan was different: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.’ Every true work of God is birthed in the realm of the Spirit. Sure, God often needs our efforts at some level. But if we make the mistake of thinking that it’s all about us, we’re in trouble. Psalm 127 provides a healthy corrective: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.’ Or as a wise teacher once said to a young preacher: ‘Never forget that it’s what God does between your lips and their ears that really matters.’
You may be facing a huge task or challenge, and you know your own resources aren’t up to it. Let this word be an encouragement to you today. There is another way. And our confidence is found in the last word of v6. Whose Spirit is it? The Lord Almighty’s. No human power even comes close.