Know Your Limits: Omnipotence (Pt. 3 of 4)

We Can't Do It All

In the previous post we talked about the doctrine of omniscience and what goes wrong with being know-it-alls. Here we are taking a quick look at the doctrine of omnipotence (which means to be all-powerful) and our temptation/delusion to be do-it-alls

In a world that praises the super-talented, get-it-done folks, the temptation to rise up and be the omnipotent One is big. And yet, we all know the massive problems that arise when we forget our finitude, being limited by size, space, and time. We are made in the image of God which is very different from saying that we are God. Attempting to be a do-it-all is the fastest way to exhaustion and frustration. 


Professor Millard Erickson of Western Seminary writes:


"Three elements must be present if we are to accomplish an ethical action: knowledge of what is to be done; the will to do it, and the ability to do what we have purposed. We may fail at any of these points. However, three factors of God's nature always come together to produce correct action: he is wise, so that he knows what to do; he is good, and thus he chooses to do the right; he is powerful, and therefore capable of doing what he wills to do." * 

The Struggle Is Real

We live in an age where so many feel that they lack any purpose in the world and simultaneiously, there are countless people who have more ambition to go, do, be, and produce. I want to speak to the latter (of which I am in that number). Many of us need is to pull the reins in a bit and acknowledge that we don't always have all the power to do what we would like to do. If you're creative, a dreamer, a visionary, one who possess the raw talent to get a lot of things done–you’ll face the temptation to forget Who is actually omnipotent and thus bite off a bit more than you can chew. Our families, friends, teams, and coworkers around us can all see it as well. They see us struggling. We need to be reminded that Jesus invited us to "rest" (Matt. 11:28) not to work and yet that resting leads to fruitful work. Paul said it this way, "God who works in us to will and do for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13). 


Koheleth, da Vinci, and St. Paul

It goes without saying that Leonardo da Vinci possessed a mind and ability unlike anyone else. What he envisioned and accomplished still causes us to drop their jaws in awe. A few months before da Vinci died, he came to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan to learn that his now infamous Last Supper  was being damaged from moisture. Just before he passed away, the tone of Koheleth (The preacher in Ecclesiastes), he wrote in very small print "We should not desire the impossible." 

We simply don't have the power to do any and everything under the sun; God does. This isn't intended to deflate, demotivate, crush dreams, or to tell you to stop stretching yourself and going for it! Quite the opposite! Paul himself apparently worked harder than any of his co-wokers but look at how he talks about it:


But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)

Get Your Strength From Someone Else

Did you catch that? Paul knew it wasn’t his job to be omnipotent. He leaned into the grace and power of God. Be encouraged as you to look to the One who spoke the universe into being and continues to remain unshaken. God, the omnipotent One, brought light out of darkness, a baby through the virgin, and even raised(es) the dead to strengthen you! Such power belongs to him. He is with you and nothing with him is impossible! (Lk. 1:37).

So in the words of the Catholic, mystic, Trappist Monk from Kentucky, Thomas Merton: "Take more time. Cover less ground." 






* Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 303.