My wife and I watched one of our favorite movie westerns this last weekend. A few weeks ago I was perusing through the Turner Classic Movies TV schedule and had spotted and eagerly recorded “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” knowing that we would want to watch it again. Well, Friday turned out to be the right night and we sat back in anticipation of the classic tale of Cavalry versus Indians, young romance and the coming of age on one hand and having to deal with the onset of older age and retirement on the other.
I told my wife as we were watching the flick that I thought that I liked this movie because of all the pageantry of frontier military life, the beauty captured by its cinematography of the Monument Valley along the Arizona-Utah state border (the movie won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1950), and the dramatic action scenes involving the horses, the weapon technology of the mid-eighteen hundreds and the personal sense of what it was like to live at that time under those adverse conditions.
There is one scene at the beginning of the movie that always captures my attention and immediately draws me into the movie. It is when you see a stagecoach pulled by a large team of horses racing at full steam across the desert floor. To me that scene is breathtaking! To see the unbraided power and beauty of the horses at full gallop, the stagecoach wildly bouncing on the arid terrain and to feel the tension, but yet excitement that fills the air! The only problem is that the stage has no driver!
Then a Calvary patrol appears over the horizon and they orderly dispatch two fast riders to chase down and stop the stage. The camera focuses in on the two riders as they race their steeds toward the out of control stage (and I turned to Piper and asked if she ever rode her horse that fast and then giggle a knowing laugh because her horse was actually kind of lazy… in fact, that‘s why I would ride her… I felt safe on her!). Finally the anticipation is ended and the soldiers come up on either side of the team of horses and control them.
My continued study of II Timothy 1:7 this morning caused me to picture all the power of that team of horses racing across the desert and the driverless stage they were pulling. This scripture informs us that “God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (MKJV) My focus today was on the function of God’s love in the middle of power and a sound mind. John Wesley stated concerning this verse that “Power and soundness of mind are two good extremes. Love is between the tie and the temperament of both; preventing the two extremes of fearfulness and rashness.” The Albert Barnes Commentary says “The tendency of this (love)… is to cast out fear (I John 4:18), and to make the mind bold and constant.”
The Apostle Paul seems to be making the point that Godly love working in us is the moderator of our use of God’s power and the activation of a sound mind. The Greek word for “power” is “dunamis” from which I understand is where we get our English word “dynamite.” It literally means “a miraculous force.” A “sound mind” is defined as “discipline or self-control.” It could also be thought of as our capability to think through things with a disciplined, well thought out, moderate and educated intellect.
And in the middle we have love! In some respects you could almost say that power and self-control are opposites. In the church world we see these exhibited in some camps through signs, wonders and miraculous demonstrations of God’s healing, deliverance, prophesy and the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit and through others by the belief and practice that all the miraculous gifts and offices were done away with at the passing of the last of the New Testament Apostles.
My wife and I have been in churches at either end of this spectrum. One where the supernatural miraculous power of God was highly anticipated, focused on, regularly taught, expected, prized and consistently demonstrated and at another where there was no expectation, little talk, much less any teaching on the supernatural power and gifts of the Holy Spirit and where a very intellectual and “practical,” evangelical approach and interpretation of the scriptures was pursued.
After a while it became apparent to us that each of these extremes were uncomfortable to us. One fellowship left us with a definite sense of emptiness amidst the seemingly one-sided focus into the deep exploration of the supernatural moves of God, while at the other we felt like we were starving as entire portions of the scriptures were being passed over. We felt that one church was heavy on the “power” side of II Timothy 1:7 while the other was heavy on the “sound mind” side!
In each case they seemed to be similarities to that driverless stage coach and team of horses racing wildly across the desert! In that example, love would be the driver that controls and directs the power and effort of the team of horses. There is another early John Wayne film in which he really emerged as a star called “Stagecoach.” Toward the end of this movie there is another racing stagecoach scene. But this time the coach has an experienced driver controlling the stage and its team as it sprints across the desert while being chased by a band of renegade Indians.
It is also a magnificent scene as the driver is encouraging the team to run faster and stronger while the occupants of the stage including a sheriff, his prisoner, the drunken doctor and the “gentleman” of questionable repute band together as a team to fight off the approaching enemy. It is a coordinated effort that is not only exciting to watch, but works for the safety of the passengers when combined with the last minute arrival of the US Calvary who dispatch the marauding Indians… as compared to the other movie where the passenger in the stage is found dead with an arrow protruding from his chest!
Wow! This post is getting long! I’d better get to my point… The Apostle Paul is teaching his young protégé as well as each of us today, that God’s love actively working in us, is to be the characteristic and force that controls the power and self-control that His Spirit gives to each of us. Without the moderation of love, we can easily fall into the extremes of either side of the heavenly equation Papa God has given us as a tool for our daily Christian walk.
Now, I know that you may be thinking that we are supposed to be extreme for Jesus, and I agree! But yet, I believe that Paul is cautioning us to temperate it with the love of God toward those in our world around us. Power and/or self-control unbridled can become a bit of a danger to us and therefore to those we interact with… Just as a stagecoach being rapidly pulled by a powerful but yet undirected team of beautiful horses can easily go off track and end up in catastrophe for its passengers!
When in doubt, let God’s love have its way! Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s LOVE am I expecting to direct my way today?”