Just three weeks ago, I was called to the bedside of a man in the closing moments of his life. As I prayed with him, there was such a sense of wanting to hang on, yet a sense of wanting to move on. Within seconds of closing my prayer, while still clinching my hand, the gentleman took his last breath of life. It is in such moments you feel utterly helpless as a minister. Words fail you, and you realize how weak you really are as a human being. What I wouldn't give to have the power to make a difference in situations like that. How do you think you would respond to situations in life if God gave you unlimited power?
If there is one thing that seems to bring out the worst in men it is power. Entrusted power will not only expose who we are, but what we are. In Numbers 22, we are introduced to a very interesting character in scripture. His name: Balaam. Balaam was very famous in the land and was being sought out by the king of the Moabites because it was said of Balaam, "..whom thou blessest is blessed, and whom thou cursest is cursed." Now there is power. How could a man obtain such a power in his life? Could God ever trust us with it if we did? How does He determine who can handle "heavenly power" in their hands?
To begin with, He tries the reaction of our ego. We are told in 2 Peter 2:16 that Balaam was a "prophet." We know he was a man who clearly heard the voice of God and communed with Him. At his death, he is referred to in Joshua 13:22 as, "the soothsayer." What had happened? Power had corrupted his heart. He had seen astonishing answers to prayer, and had been proven true in his predictions. However, in the process of success, he began to view the power as his and forgot it merely was lent to him. Over time, he grew proud and covetous and God withdrew his hand causing Balaam to turn to evil means in order to maintain his "reputation." Man has secretly always wanted to be God. That was the "drawing power" to Eve, "..ye shall be as gods." When power feeds a hungry ego, God's departure is inevitable. Such a departure is both silent and painless, but the price is devastating.
Secondly, God will try the response toward our enemies. Balak had sent messengers to Balaam seeking to convince him that they were his friend and Israel was an enemy and needed to be cursed. Nothing can determine more if God can trust us with power than those moments when we hold in our hands the power to destroy our enemies. Remember God's test of David in the cave of En-jedi? "Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee." Later, we not only see David holding Saul's spear, but Saul's life in his hand. What power! The James and John of our hearts still desires to call "fire down from heaven and consume them." When we have the opportunity to do harm is the time God exposes who and what we are at heart. Those whom God can trust with power are those who are fearful with it.
Thirdly, God will test the reasoning that we embrace. Balaam boldly proclaims in Number 24:13, "..I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind.." He could not "go beyond," but his heart found a way to "go around." He blessed Israel, but gave counsel of their weaknesses to the enemy. How tragic to think we can do good with evil intentions, or evil with good intentions. Unbalanced reasoning assures God that we will be a failure when He needs us the most.
So, you are disappointed you did not get the promotion you felt you deserved. Opportunities are not coming to you as fast as you would like in life. Consider yourself blessed. Chances are, your life is still being proven and tested, and God is doing a work to prepare you for the sacred trust of holding His power in your hands. Just what would you give to gain that trust of God?
©2004 Alan Stewart