IT REALLY was a beautiful car, but it had a very frustrating habit. It would not start-well, once in a while it would catch, cough, and sputter for a short distance. The family was large, and they were more than busy checking, studying, analyzing---then someone would say, "All together now---PUSH." Others were invited to help, as if it was some sort of privilege to help push a nice new car.
There seemed to be a feeling that with coordinated effort, with every shoulder pushing together, somehow it would "catch" and take off running. Actually, they had been pushing for so long now that it had almost become "the way" to keep the family car on the road. (In fact, with the current threat of gas shortages and rationing, some may actually have to resort to this source of energy!)
Thoughtful study of the operating manual, however, led to an understanding of some possible causes as to why the car would not start, or run consistently, "Is there dirt in the carburetor?" "Did you check the fuel tank?"
A strange story, you say. True, but no more strange than this modern-day phenomenon: "The reason why there is so little of the Spirit of God manifested is that ministers learn to do without it."---Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 383.
Are we somehow educated and organized to do God's work by pushing? All together now---PUSH. Did you ever hear a president say, "If I only had more men. . .?" What for---to push? Biblical history is replete with examples of God accomplishing much---with few men. How Gideon must have worried as his army shrank to the size of a medium-sized church. But what a victory, one for which only God could take the glory. "Were our numbers half as large, and all of these devoted workers, we should have a power that would make the world tremble." --Ibid., vol. 3, p. 405.
It is not just more men that God needs, but dedicated, Spirit-filled men, men who will not get along without it, men who know what God wants, and who will use Spirit-inspired methods that come from Heaven. Whenever the work is Spirit-powered, it goes! The results are never minimal.
1. It is the Holy Spirit that opens "hearts and minds" (Evangelism, p. 436).
2. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces "the soul of its need of Christ" (ibid., p. 283).
3. "Without the Spirit's aid, our efforts to present divine truth will be in vain."--Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Aug. 25, 1896.
4. Learning, talents, and eloquence may convince a mind that our body of teachings are intellectually sound, and such a soul may b e won to the church, but "without the power of the Holy Spirit, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ" (Testimonies, vol. 8, p.21).
Long ago, God warned us, "as activity increases, and we become successful in doing the work that must be accomplished, there is danger of our trusting to human plans and methods."---Ibid., July 4, 1893. Our activity certainly has increased and in some ways we are considered successful. But are our activities bringing a finished work? Or have we trusted to human plans and methods? Planning commissions, organizational meetings and committees are a way life with us. We study and analyze one another's ideas, but how often do we study God's revealed way of doing His work? How else can we be sure if the plans are "human"?
It is not by large numbers pushing. It is "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit" (Zech. 4:6) that God's work is going to be moved down the road. It is not even by man-made enthusiasm such as permeates the sales department of a modern company. The only kind of enthusiasm that will move God's work is heaven originated.
"The Holy Spirit of God alone can create a healthy enthusiasm."---Selected Messages, book 2, p. 16. Apparently there is a kind that is not healthy, and brings little in the way of lasting results.
Jesus told the disciples to "tarry . . . until ye are embued with power" (Luke 24:49). "This was essential to their success . . . . This is the very course that should be pursued."---Gospel Workers (1892), p. 370. Yet, God says, far too often we have learned to do without the only power which can bring success to our ministry. What a soul-searching theme for a ministerial retreat!
We seem to be satisfied with isolated drops when God is waiting to shower us with the power of Pentecost. The disciples were prepared for Pentecost in the upper room. Pentecost would not have come if they had not waited. It will not come in this day unless we tarry to be cleansed, then filled. No wonder we have to push. Did you ever run a car on just a few drops of fuel? It is almost like running a committee on a "word of prayer"---now and then. How can He tell us what His will is for the running of His work when we hardly give Him time. I really am tired of sitting on committees that are opened with "a word of prayer" and then hours are spent struggling with problems God has already given us solutions for. What we need is hours of prayer, and "a word of committee" for a change.
Here is the heavenly secret for a finished work. " When we give ourselves wholly to God, and  in our work follow His directions,  He makes Himself responsible for its accomplishment."---Christ's Object Lessons, p. 363. (Italics supplied.)
Let's stop pushing long enough for Him to fill the tank, shall we?