I was just ringing up a drink in my small Coffee Hut when a sudden stillness surrounded me. The silence was deafening. Background noises which I never pay attention to—the rumbling of the ice maker and hum of the air conditioning unit—were suddenly conspicuously absent. Oh, and did I mention it was dark? Well, you guessed it, my hut was without electricity, and I was suddenly out of work. No espresso machine, no steamed milk, no blender for frappuccinos, milk shakes or smoothies. It only took a few minutes to comprehend the ludicrousness of my situation. I had one freshly brewed pot of coffee, and a whole shop full of dormant ingredients with which I could do nothing. I called my boss, and started cleaning up shop to go home—four hours ahead of schedule. When the power goes out, there’s not much more you can do.
Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If His Chaco’d feet hit the pavement of our modern day cities, I think He might draw an analogy to electricity instead of talking vines and branches. I’ve never lived through a scenario that illustrated this principle in such vivid color. There I was, sitting in a shop whose whole purpose for existing was to make these specialty beverages, and I couldn’t do anything. Cut off from the power source, my vocation (literally call) became null and void. Utterly impossible to fulfill. Apart from Jesus I can’t do anything. Well, maybe I can sit in a dead shop handing out cups of coffee until my one little pot runs empty, but I can’t fulfill my purpose. Not even close. If Jesus ceases to be my power source, it doesn’t matter how much good stuff I have around me. I might as well pack up and go home.
It’s a funny thing, electricity. It’s so unassuming, unnoticed. We walk through our days totally unaware of how much we depend upon it. Until it’s not there. Perhaps this speaks to that mystery of the hiddenness of God, of the times when He seems to “not be there.” Perhaps the only way some of us will recognize how much we depend on Him for everything is to experience a temporary “power-out,” where it seems to us that we have been disconnected. The silence can be deafening. But it speaks its own message—a message of dependence, of need, of our inability to do anything of value apart from our Source. It’s a message many of us need to hear.
Back to my shop—when the power came back on half an hour after its unexpected disruption, I let out a whoop of thankfulness. (See, I actually like my job). I was back in business, surrounded by stores of good things to hand out to the world—and the power supply to make it possible.