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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Arising power

Arising power

The plume is magnificent.

That’s partially because of the sharply cold air.  This power plant, not far from my home, usually emits an ascending cloud of vapor that can be seen for miles.  But in the winter, the escaping warm air undergoes a Hulk-like transformation, rising with an impressive muscularity in the cyan sky.

I’ve driven past the plant hundreds of times but never gotten close.  I wasn’t even sure if I could.  But driving through a rusted gate left open, I park and walk tentatively toward the cooling towers, startling a heron that’s fishing in a sullen stream nearby.

It’s not a very picturesque place.  But that pillar of cloud looms even more impressively here.

I suppose I came here today because I’ve been thinking about power lately.  To be honest, I’ve been feeling helpless to bring change on many levels, ranging from small-scale personal to grand scale cultural.  I know I’m not alone in this.  It’s easy to feel, in a pandemic age, like we just get swept along by events (or by our own flaws) in which we have no say.

But when I turn to the New Testament, I find it overflowing with references to power.  Paul puts it very directly:

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Cor. 4:20)

God is ultimately not trying to win an argument, as if our mental assertion to his truth is enough.  He’s out to transform lives.  And through those lives, build something radically different than what exists in the world.

And his power is the agent of that change.  But it’s one thing to know that and another to experience it.  How do I tap into that transformative energy?

Getting back in the car, I leave the property and drive to the other side of the plant.  Here I find a curious sight: an old cemetery, framed by the street and the power station.  I get out again and walk among the tombstones.  The juxtaposition of images is striking.

Death and decay are contrasted against towers of voltage.

It immediately makes me think of the resurrection.  Paul writes that “by his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”  (1 Cor. 6:14) If the Lord can break through that impenetrable barrier, nothing else can thwart him.  Not my internal workings.  Not cultural conflicts.  Not even global viruses.

On the drive home, I stop for one last view.  And I realize what that plume reminds me of: prayers, like incense, rising before the throne of God.  (Rev. 8:4) This is key to tapping into that power.

Prayer.  It is the conduit of his presence.  The source of our transformation -- his Word engaging our hearts, returned back to him through prayer and praise.

If I truly want change, this is where to start.

God of glorious might, you have the power to change us.  Individually.  Collectively.  We come to you, asking you to unleash your resurrection energy into our lives, so that your kingdom may come through us.

Reader: Tell me about a time when you were awed by a display of power, either natural or spiritual.

Email me about it at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And consider sharing this with friends via the social media buttons above.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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