Today’s reading is drawn from Zephaniah 1:2-7.
How fast will your car go? You don’t know? Well, how high do the numbers on your speedometer go — 130 . . . 140 . . . 150? And you probably have never even taken your car up to 100 mph. Right? Wow, just think of all that raw, unused power! It’s enough to make your heart pound, isn’t it?
If you’re mechanical enough to understand what’s really going on under your hood, you know something about this power. You know that if you actually drove those speeds very often, you could cause serious damage to your finely-tuned engine . . . not to mention what this would do to your stellar driving record. But knowing that you could drive at speeds north of 100 and choosing not to can be a pretty heady thing.
Sometimes power is more powerful when it’s not used.
Did you notice that Zephaniah’s prophecies are all written in the future tense? He was telling the people that many, many terrible things would happen to them if they continued in their disobedience and sinfulness. He was reminding them of something they had known all along: when God unleashes his power, it’s an incredible thing — a devastating thing. “Do whatever you can,” Zephaniah seemed to be saying, “to avoid the Sovereign Lord’s wrath and power.”
In your job as a dad, you have a disciplinary speedometer. This instrument registers numbers much higher than posted and safe speed limits. Do you have the right to push your accelerator to the floor and demonstrate some of that power? Of course you do, and sometimes it’s all you can do.
But most experts agree that if you spend too much time at those high speeds, you’ll do damage to yourself, not to mention those around you. Sometimes that power is more powerful when it’s not used. When your children see you voluntarily holding back, they’ll be impressed with — and thankful for — your restraint. They may even be willing to get in line without your pressing the accelerator.
Sometimes dads are called on to use their power. Their families need the strong voice, the demonstration of authority or the crack of the whip. It’s not enjoyable, but it is necessary. But most of the time, even when you could use that power, it’s better to hold back, leaving some of that potential force unused.
God’s restraint — His mercy and His grace — is what makes Him so awesome. Does He have the power to do whatever He wants? Of course, He does. Does He have the right? Again, yes . . . especially given our sinfulness. But most of the time it’s His tenderness and patience that melts our defiance and realigns our wayward hearts.
Perhaps you need to discover the power of unused power. Your family will be grateful.